Stars on 1903 Receivers


September 14, 2004, 11:42 PM

I have a friend who has a friend (don't all Gun Tales start out this way?) who claims that M1903s had stars on their receivers, and the number of stars corresponded to how accurate the rifle was. The more the better. Or, something.

My first thought? BS GUN STORY

...but, I had to admit that I know too little about the '03 to state outright that I know he is wrong. Friend of mine says friend of his knows his stuff and doesn't tell tales. I told him that I've never heard of such a thing, and my '03 has no stars. Oddly, neither does my friend's. I said that it sounded sketchy to me, but I would ask around.

So, I'm asking around. BS or No-S?

Mike ;)

If you enjoyed reading about "Stars on 1903 Receivers" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
September 14, 2004, 11:50 PM
Those were the star gauged barrels. If they held a certain accuracy standard they had the star put on them. They're supposed to be the best.
I'm sure someone will have a more descriptive explanation on them.

September 15, 2004, 01:35 AM

Not BS, then? Interesting! But, just one star, yeah? Not like a rating system?

My freind's friend was trying to say, I think, that they rated 'em like movies. Four stars better than three better than two better than...

I dunno.


Jim Watson
September 15, 2004, 08:15 AM
A teeny little star (actually more like a sunburst) on the very muzzle of the barrel indicates that it was measured with a star gauge; an early mechanical instrument that could measure the bore and groove to the ten thousandth. The rifles were shipped with a yellow card showing the measurements every inch down the barrel. Routinely done on national match, sporter, and the special target rifles, and I think as a spot check on service rifles.

The star does not mean the barrel SHOT accurately. The upper crust guns came with a test target so you could see that.

Do be careful, there are a good number of star punches and blank yellow cards out there at gun shows.

A plain punch mark on the little ledge on the receiver ring is said to be an indication that the rifle was rebarrelled at some time. More punches, more rebuilds.

Jim K
September 15, 2004, 02:01 PM
Hi, Jim W. and guys,

I believe that the punch mark on the receiver was the receiver proof mark, showing that the receiver had been proved separately using a test barrel. Bolts and barrels were also proved as components before assembly, and rifles were not assembled unless each component had been proved and had the required mark. AFAIK, there was never more than one punch mark, since receivers were not re-proved separately in the rebuild process.

The P under the pistol grip is the rifle proof mark put on when the completed rifle passed proof, and additional proof marks were made on the stock when the rifle was rebuilt or proved for any reason. These marks are often called "rebuild marks" since they were usually applied when the rifle was re-proved after a rebuild. But it should be noted that all rifles sold through the old DCM program were re-proved before sale, so many unissued rifles (notably Model 1903A3 rifles) had the re-proof mark (ex: RA-P) applied when they were in fact brand new and had never been rebuilt or even issued.

A point of interest is that the punch mark was used rather than a larger letter stamp and the final proof was put on the stock rather than the receiver for the simple reason that the finished M1903 receiver was too hard to take a satisfactory letter mark.

I know of no "star" mark put on the receiver of a M1903 rifle in U.S. service, but many of those rifles were later used by other countries who applied their own markings.


Jim Watson
September 15, 2004, 04:01 PM
Jim K

The Mk I beside my computer has three (3) punch marks below the serial number. And one on the root of the bolt handle.

Oddly enough, the SA 5-19 barrel does not have a punch mark in the middle of the Ordnance bomb, which Brophy says was done when *that* barrel was proof fired on *that* action. The "P" on the stock is very faint and the other stock markings are gone. Looks like the stock was scraped, not sanded, and re-oiled. Maybe by a post WW I garritrooper.

A lot can happen in the 50 years from the time that old rifle was made until it ended up in a dime store for a kid to nag his mother to buy for him.

If you enjoyed reading about "Stars on 1903 Receivers" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!