Saturday, December 30, 2017

One more Springfield for 2017

So this just happened.


One more 1903 Springfield comes onto the armory.

Older one, too. Serial number puts it at 1907 manufacture.

Has a newer barrel though. Barrel dates to February, 1933.

No hatcher hole on the left side.

New barrel and old parkerized finish suggests a World War Two-era rebuild, not uncommon to 1903 rifles. It also unfortunately saw a scope mount courtesy of some bubba at some time, but it's been repaired pretty decently and it's not nearly as obvious as this photo makes it out to be.

The barrel rifling is strong and sharp, and I bought this one to be a shooter--a 1903 that I can take to the range and enjoy without worrying about putting more wear on it. So those repaired scope holes won't bother me a bit.

Walnut stock has the faint remains of an FJA (Frank J. Atwood) acceptance stamp and a Springfield Armory rebuild stamp.
Sanded and refinished obviously but still would have been a decent stock for a "shooter" 1903 except for the fact that it came cracked.
Yep. That goes all the way though at the wrist. Can't shoot this one.
I saw this as soon as I un-boxed it. I then rechecked the pics that the seller sent me and I couldn't discern any cracks in those pictures. I checked the box that the rifle came in, and while there were some creases in the box that could suggest rough handling, it wasn't really dispositive one way or the other.

I contacted the seller and we went back and forth a bit He swears it wasn't like that when he sent it and he struck me as a decent sort so I tend to believe him and lean towards blaming UPS. I suggested that he initiate a claim with UPS but in the end, the seller just refunded enough of the purchase price to make me feel ok about the stock. On the plus side, stay tuned for a future blog post on how to do vintage rifle stock repairs. I'll try it. And if all else fails, I think I've located an adequate replacement stock and it's on order already, as a spare if nothing else.

18 comments:

  1. Two questions:
    1. Where can you get replacement 1903 stock (asking for a friend.)?
    2. Is a Springfield-made 1903 with such a low number safe to shoot? I always heard the ones below 800,000 weren't properly heat treated. (I'll presume it's safe since it has a 1933 dated barrel, but I'd hate for your mutts to be orphaned, and for me to miss the free entertainment you give me.)

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    1. In this rare instance, I lucked out with Sarco. They had at least one.

      As to low-numbers, I don't worry about it. There have been less than thirty documented failures of those receivers and it's been almost a century since then. I buy and shoot low-numbered '03 rifles whenever I can and I get them cheaper because people fear them. I figure if this one--or any of mine--was going to blow, they'd have done it by now.

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    2. Thank you. You're probably right. The 1933 barrel is probably proof (Heh. "Proof," get it?) that this is a safe one. Good luck. I do love old Springfields (and Mausers, and Enfields).

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    3. I was on the range as an R.O. about 3 years ago at a vintage rifle shoot for some college R.O.T.C. cadets when a low numbered receiver failed. After a shot, the bolt was jammed. We called the line cold and two R.O.s took the rifle (one of them was the owner). He managed to open the bolt and a piece of the top of the receiver, in the area where the serial number is, fell off. The crack ran down into the stock on left side. The lugs held and no one was injured. The exposed metal was very crystallized, looked almost like pot metal. This was a Rock Island receiver, which had twice the failure rate that Springfield had. In Hatcher's notebook, there are pictures of receivers that are hit with a large hammer. The early ones shatter, later properly heat treated receivers just deform. Since the number of reported failures is statistically very low (call it 70 out of 1,000,000) you are probably making a reasonable decision. I just wanted to report the failure I witnessed on the line.

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  2. Are you planning on doing the Accra glass brass screw stock repair?

    Old 1811 I've had good luck with Numrich Arms in the past.

    https://www.gunpartscorp.com/search#query=1903%20rifle%20stock

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    1. I am going to try just that sort of repair. I'm researching it now.

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    2. Sport Pilot:
      Thank you. I'll try them. (I mean, my friend will.)

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  3. I've seen that crack before. It might have been a "spinner". In the '70s we used those 1093s ast drill rifles. We'd spin then, toss them, snap that steel butt on the ground. A cracked stock was fairly common, and we'd take them into the armory, change the stock and continue with the show.

    When we fixed that M1917 bayonet and started tossing rifles, the crowd would go "OOOH!"

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  4. Hey Murphy;

    Good find,and that is a very nice looking rifle, especially for being over 100 years old, if those rifles could talk. I do know about what PawPaw said about "spinning", I was at North Georgia College and we used 03 rifles as drill and spinning rifles. Part of the reason I like them so much and why I have a 03A3 in my gunsafe. I would just put a replacement stock on it and keep shooting.

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  5. Numrich has some stocks too. Uh, by scope holes do you mean the ones shown in the side pic? If so, those *might* be for one of the Lyman series peep sights some shooters used in the 30's for competitions.

    R.Brown

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  6. Good luck with the rifle. I am going to an auction in a couple of weeks where they have several of these up for bids from a single collector's estate. Maybe I should do some figuring on what to bid should one or more of them strike my fancy. Right now, I know little to almost nothing about them.

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  7. Whoops, my bad -that auction has several Springfield 1898 Krags (and several older Springfield rifles) up for bids and only a single 1903.

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  8. Very nice, god luck on the stock repairs. My last acquisition of 2017 was inspired by you and is rather more modern....post to follow if it ever defrosts around here.

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  9. Sweet
    Happy New Year

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  10. Hey Murphy;

    You done good with that purchase, now if those old rifles could talk, what a story they would say. PawPaw was spot on, When I was in North Georgia College in 1984, we were issued Springfield as drill rifles and occasionally one would get dropped. Put a newer stock on the rifle and go shooting!

    P.S. Hate to squalk, but a lot of my comments ain't making it on your blog....Bummer

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  11. Any competent machinist can drill a Hatcher Hole (named after General Julian Hatcher, who designed it in 1936 to line up a gas escape hole in the receiver with the bolt gas escape hole) if he has a 1903 rifle that already has a Hatcher Hole to use to set up and duplicate the location of the Hole. Also, get a new WWII era Remington 1903 or 1903-A3 bolt (avalaible on GunBroker), the early (prior to 1918) bolts failed as well (test with a go/no-go gauge for headspace after installation). Almost all of the WWII refurbishment 1903 barrels were dated in the 40's, and most,(but not all) of those rifles got a Hatcher Hole drilled at the same time, so a 1933 barrel replacement without a Hatcher Hole drilled was probably a post WWI refurb. I absolutely would NOT fire a low number 1903 without those two vital safety updates. If you are buying a new stock, might as well get a "C" grip later version, much nicer to shoot (CMP sells them). Good shooting!

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    1. Some good advice, indeed. Sounds like you know your business. I do have a later bolt sitting in my spares box doing nothing. I'll probably swap it out just for the added margin.

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