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CaliforniaLiberal
01-15-2011, 9:20 PM
The newest focus of my gun collecting desire is the Springfield 1903 rifle. I'm just starting to learn and thought I'd ask for assistance.

I read on the CMP Forum that they might be getting some ready for sale in 2011. I haven't the faintest idea how popular these might be. Are they the sort of CMP gun that get snapped up in 8 hours and lord knows what price? Or maybe they'll last a couple of months?

Do you have favorite sites on line to go shopping for a 1903? Favorite books?

ElvenSoul
01-15-2011, 9:31 PM
I Prefer one with a C stock.

sevensix2x51
01-15-2011, 9:33 PM
all i can tell you is that theyre awesome. i prefer the a3, i have a remington made in 43. i prefer the new aperture rear sight as opposed to the old style, due to the longer radius and my personal fondness for an aperture rear. good luck with the hunt! theyre tack drivers, at least mine is. :)

Mac Attack
01-15-2011, 9:44 PM
I also prefer the 1903A3 compared to the original 1903. If you can find either one in your price range buy it. I see them for sale all the time on the CMP forum in the $600 - $800 range which is more than I am willing to pay. I recommend you join the CMP forum and read up on the 1903 variants.

I have an all original Remington 1903A3 and for an old girl, it is still amazingly accurate and a joy to shoot. This past Monday I picked up a Springfield 1903 Mark 1 barreled action from another Calgunner and plan to restore to it's former self.

Regarding the CMP and 1903's in 2011 and whether they are popular or not. Let's just say, if you plan to buy one you need to get your prerequisites for a CMP purchase ready now. Because when they post on the CMP website and forum that the rifles are now being sold, they will be sold out in days if not hours. Everyone wants a CMP 1903 and they will go FAST!

ElvenSoul
01-15-2011, 9:50 PM
Umm yeah expect CMP to sell out in like 72hours or so.. when and if they ever get them in again... If you must have check out Sarco.

mls343
01-15-2011, 9:53 PM
I have 2. A Mark I made in 1919 and an 03A3 made in 1943. Both are excellent shooters, but for me, there is nothing better than a finger stock Springfield. I just feels right. Really. Either way, the basic 1903 design is very, very shooter friendly. Very American and surprisingly accurate given the competition.

One or the other should be in your collection. Period.

Cato
01-15-2011, 10:08 PM
I have one from 1915 that I got from CMP with a shot out barrel. It was a VFW gun and has some feeding problems. I just had a new barrel put on it and waiting to take it out. I stocked up on CMP 30 06, so I'm looking for some sweet range time!

mauser98k
01-15-2011, 10:11 PM
i love my '03. made by Remington in June of 1942. one of the last regular M1903s before they switched to producing the 03a3 a couple months later

they are extremely accurate. the only C&R rifles i can think that may out shoot them are the Swiss K31 and Finnish M28 and M39. even then it's close.

during the World Wars they earned the nickname "weapon of silent death" since a good marksman could hit you from hundreds of yards away. the bullet would reach you before you even heard the shot.

smle-man
01-15-2011, 10:17 PM
Stay away from the low number receiver rifles. The Smith Corona 03A3s command more money than the Remington 03A3s. My favorite 03s are Remington early WW2 production. I own three 03 series at the present time.
The 03A3 sight is easier to use for anyone older than 35.

My CMP 1931 SA with a 1942 SA barrel. It is a WW2 rebuild with the WW2 wood.:

http://i238.photobucket.com/albums/ff237/smle-man/Springfield03001.jpg
http://i238.photobucket.com/albums/ff237/smle-man/Springfield03002.jpg

Two Remington 03A3s, one is an unfired DCM sales rifle, the other is a post WW2 overhaul

http://i238.photobucket.com/albums/ff237/smle-man/03a3pair002.jpg
http://i238.photobucket.com/albums/ff237/smle-man/03a3pair003.jpg

Milsurp Collector
01-16-2011, 12:00 AM
First of all, get this book http://www.amazon.com/Illustrated-Guide-Springfield-Service-Rifle/dp/1931464154/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1295161175&sr=8-9

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/514JJCXM9RL._SS500_.jpg

Next, while I am a big supporter of the CMP, I'm not sure the CMP is the best place to get a M1903 or M1903A3. Unlike Garands which are coming in from foreign countries that often used them very little and kept them in storage, the M1903s the CMP has been getting are returns from veteran's service groups and were often worn out. Don't expect them to be in the same condition as the Greek Air Force Garands. This is how the CMP describes them:

These rifles have all seen considerable use. All have been rebuilt at one time or another and should be considered “mix-masters” as they have parts from all manufacturers. These rifles are returns from veterans’ organizations. Complete rifles are functional. Appearance and overall exterior condition varies from fair to good, except for the barrels. These rifles have been used for ceremonial purposes for decades and probably have fired thousands of blank rounds. Bores may be dark with little or no rifling, pitting, and rust. Wood is sound, but may have minor cracks, dents, scratches and gouges that do not affect function. Metal finish may be worn in spots and minor pitting may be present.

I think Gunbroker.com, Gunboards.com, Calguns, local gun stores, etc. are probably better places to look.

As mentioned, there are M1903s (middle below) and M1903A3s (bottom below).

http://i54.tinypic.com/2vl5h11.jpg

M1903s were made by Springfield Armory (SA) and Rock Island Arsenal (RIA) before World War II, and briefly by Remington early in World War II before they switched to making the M1903A3. Some of the early M1903s made by SA and RIA up through 1918 had faulty heat treatment, creating brittle receivers that might shatter if you had a cartridge failure or pierced primer. Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell if a receiver is bad without destroying it. Whether or not to shoot "low number" M1903s is very controversial. There is a good discussion at http://forums.gunboards.com/showthread.php?131650-Is-my-1903-serial-number-693088-safe-to-shoot

Here are some low-number M1903 receivers that shattered just by hitting them once with a hammer.

http://i34.tinypic.com/5jwxeg.jpg

Again, here is what the CMP says

*WARNING ON “LOW-NUMBER” SPRINGFIELDS
M1903 rifles made before February 1918 utilized receivers and bolts which were single heat-treated by a method that rendered some of them brittle and liable to fracture when fired, exposing the shooter to a risk of serious injury. It proved impossible to determine, without destructive testing, which receivers and bolts were so affected and therefore potentially dangerous.

To solve this problem, the Ordnance Department commenced double heat treatment of receivers and bolts. This was commenced at Springfield Armory at approximately serial number 800,000, and at Rock Island Arsenal at exactly serial number 285,507. All Springfields made after this change are commonly called “high number” rifles. Those Springfields made before this change are commonly called “low-number” rifles.

In view of the safety risk the Ordnance Department withdrew from active service all “low-number” Springfields. During WWII, however, the urgent need for rifles resulted in the rebuilding and reissuing of many “low-number” as well as “high-number” Springfields. The bolts from such rifles were often mixed during rebuilding, and did not necessarily remain with the original receiver.

Generally speaking, “low number” bolts can be distinguished from “high-number” bolts by the angle at which the bolt handle is bent down. All “low number” bolts have the bolt handle bent straight down, perpendicular to the axis of the bolt body. High number bolts have “swept-back” (or slightly rearward curved) bolt handles.

A few straight-bent bolts are of the double heat-treat type, but these are not easily identified, and until positively proved otherwise ANY straight-bent bolt should be assumed to be “low number”. All original swept-back bolts are definitely “high number”. In addition, any bolt marked “N.S.” (for nickel steel) can be safely regarded as “high number” if obtained directly from CMP (beware of re-marked fakes).

CMP DOES NOT RECOMMEND FIRING ANY SPRINGFIELD RIFLE WITH A ”LOW NUMBER” RECEIVER. Such rifles should be regarded as collector’s items, not “shooters”.

Springfield Armory rifles with serial numbers above approx. 810000 and RIA rifles above 285506 are "high number" and are safe to shoot. Also safe to shoot are M1903s marked "Mark I", Remington M1903s, and all M1903A3s and M1903A4s.

Funny how "last ditch" Arisakas have a completely undeserved reputation for faulty metallurgy when they are in fact some of the strongest actions ever made, while some people will shoot low number M1903s, some of which actually do have faulty metallurgy. :confused:

M1903A3s were made by Remington and Smith Corona. While M1903s were used from before World War I through World War II, M1903A3s were used by the US only in World War II. Many were used very little so it is easier to find a M1903A3 that is in excellent condition. As mentioned above, many prefer the M1903A3s rear sight.

Anchors
01-16-2011, 1:25 AM
I think I need an M1903A3 with a "high serial number".
Why isn't surplus .30-06 cheaper :[

Milsurp Collector
01-16-2011, 7:20 AM
I think I need an M1903A3 with a "high serial number".


All M1903A3s have serial numbers above 3 million, so all are high number. Low serial number is an issue only for M1903s.


Why isn't surplus .30-06 cheaper :[

Invest in reloading equipment and you won't worry so much about ammo cost. I don't have plans to buy any more centerfire ammo, only components. Once you have the equipment you can make your own ammo for close to the cost of surplus ammo, and cheaper than commercial ammo, especially for uncommon cartridges. The ammo you make will be more accurate, non-corrosive, with your choice of bullets, and the brass can be reused, unlike usually Berdan-primed foreign surplus ammo. I have surplus 8x57 and 7.62x54r that I will probably never use because I have since obtained reloading dies and Boxer-primed brass for those cartridges.

You can reload even in a small apartment.

http://i44.tinypic.com/snc9k2.jpg

blackfalcon
01-16-2011, 11:05 AM
Scott Duff (www.scott-duff.com) has some nice 03 and Garands, but he is a bit pricey. Once he updates his site, the new rifles go fast.

gunboat
01-16-2011, 11:24 AM
I prefer the 03a3 like several of the other posters. milsurp suggestion about the book is good, but there is quite a bit of info on the net as well.
One thing not mentioned is that many 03a3s have two groove barrels, some 03's rebarred during wII do as well.
Not to worry, 2 grooves are good shooters both with jacketed ammo and the proper cast bullets.
I think everone is just going to have to live with the demise of cheap surplus ammo.
Perhaps the chinese will take over that market as well.

Reloading is certainly a viable option, and in fact, is the only option for weapons that surplus and commercial ammo is no longer obtainable or is sky hi in price.

Just to make you feel good, my two 03a3s cost $17.50 each delivered to the door in 1958. Both smith-corona's, one 4groove and one 2 groove. Both as new --

Anchors
01-16-2011, 8:16 PM
All M1903A3s have serial numbers above 3 million, so all are high number. Low serial number is an issue only for M1903s.



Invest in reloading equipment and you won't worry so much about ammo cost. I don't have plans to buy any more centerfire ammo, only components. Once you have the equipment you can make your own ammo for close to the cost of surplus ammo, and cheaper than commercial ammo, especially for uncommon cartridges. The ammo you make will be more accurate, non-corrosive, with your choice of bullets, and the brass can be reused, unlike usually Berdan-primed foreign surplus ammo. I have surplus 8x57 and 7.62x54r that I will probably never use because I have since obtained reloading dies and Boxer-primed brass for those cartridges.

You can reload even in a small apartment.

http://i44.tinypic.com/snc9k2.jpg

I have been tinkering with the idea of reloading, but this early in my firearms collecting career I figured I should put the money toward guns before they become unavailable. Plus I am afraid of buying all the stuff and then not being able to figure it out or getting too frustrated with it and losing money.

Scott Duff (www.scott-duff.com) has some nice 03 and Garands, but he is a bit pricey. Once he updates his site, the new rifles go fast.

Those are all pretty nice, but JEEZ you weren't kidding about pricey.


I prefer the 03a3 like several of the other posters. milsurp suggestion about the book is good, but there is quite a bit of info on the net as well.
One thing not mentioned is that many 03a3s have two groove barrels, some 03's rebarred during wII do as well.
Not to worry, 2 grooves are good shooters both with jacketed ammo and the proper cast bullets.
I think everone is just going to have to live with the demise of cheap surplus ammo.
Perhaps the chinese will take over that market as well.

Reloading is certainly a viable option, and in fact, is the only option for weapons that surplus and commercial ammo is no longer obtainable or is sky hi in price.

Just to make you feel good, my two 03a3s cost $17.50 each delivered to the door in 1958. Both smith-corona's, one 4groove and one 2 groove. Both as new --

I am so jealous of your last statements.
Are there restrictions on importing Chinese ammo (I know there are on firearms)?
Seems like a great business venture for china.
I wish I could start a company and make a 5 cent profit per round and sell super cheap. I would sell millions of rounds and in turn still see good profit.

CaliforniaLiberal
01-17-2011, 5:47 PM
Thanks for all the great info!

Bhobbs
01-17-2011, 9:43 PM
I have been tinkering with the idea of reloading, but this early in my firearms collecting career I figured I should put the money toward guns before they become unavailable. Plus I am afraid of buying all the stuff and then not being able to figure it out or getting too frustrated with it and losing money.



Those are all pretty nice, but JEEZ you weren't kidding about pricey.




I am so jealous of your last statements.
Are there restrictions on importing Chinese ammo (I know there are on firearms)?
Seems like a great business venture for china.
I wish I could start a company and make a 5 cent profit per round and sell super cheap. I would sell millions of rounds and in turn still see good profit.



I have just started reloading and it is a little unnerving knowing that this will be going off near your face for the first time but if you can read directions and pay attention to numbers then you will do fine. Military .30-06 is not loaded hot so if you replicate it you will have a safety margin but don't rely on it.

renardsubtil
01-18-2011, 10:01 AM
The CMP is a good resource but don't pass up the local gun show.

Personally I was impressed by the Vallejo show for C and Rs and ended up walking out with a really cherry condition Remington 1903A3 that had been arsenal reparked, a "Z" marked serial number, and a barrel that was barely (if ever) shot for $500. This was about 2 years ago though so prices might have changed since then.


I used this book for reference information.

The Model 1903 Springfield Rifle and its Variations. 3rd Revised Edition by Joe Poyer

This site here has a few information items on cartouches and what not.

http://m1903.com/

elcordobes
01-18-2011, 12:44 PM
Thanks for the info. I have been thinking about getting one as well.

laika
01-18-2011, 5:38 PM
All excellent info. I saw an 03 and an 03A3 at my local gun show this past weekend and was seriously seriously tempted. One of these is on my very short to do list very soon and the info in this thread was helpful, thanks.