CMP dilemma. 03 or 03A3?


March 15, 2005, 08:45 PM
OK, the C&R has been filed and will be here soon. I need a new rifle to keep my M1 and Enfields company. I am torn between the 03A3 and the 03. I'm leaning towards picking up an 03 and searching out a C stock for it.

Any thoughts on which of the two rifles has better odds of being nicer when I get it? Some of the 03A3's I've seen pictures of lately have been very nice, but I haven't seen much on the older 03's....

The 03 is calling, but I want to make sure I get a nice rifle....


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El Rojo
March 15, 2005, 09:41 PM
First, I am pretty sure the CMP doesn't care about your C&R, they will still make you follow the same procedures as everyone else. So if you are waiting for your C&R just to go to the CMP, I am pretty sure you should just go and stop wasting time. Well I just looked at the rules and maybe you are going to use that as your shooting qualification proof. I don't know how having a C&R proves you know how to shoot, but who am I to stop another guy from getting a gun.

Either way do what I did. Get both! It really is the only way. :D

March 15, 2005, 09:55 PM
A good chunk of what they accept does nothing to prove you can safely shoot a rifle.

March 15, 2005, 09:59 PM
I'm faced with the same dilemma, if you can call it that.
My novice assumption was to go with the o3a3 because I've read the original 03's were zeroed for 300 yards and the tangent sights were not as adjustable.

March 15, 2005, 10:00 PM
I got the O3A3 because I like aperature sights.

Steve in PA
March 16, 2005, 01:02 AM
I got an '03A3 last year (to keep my M1 company :D ) and when it arrived, other than being smothered in was in mint condition. I don't think the thing was ever fired. I believe it was one of the Greek returns, but I ain't complainin'.

March 16, 2005, 05:05 AM
AS long as you meet all of the other requirements, you can use your 03 FFL instead of fullfilling your shooting requirement. At least that's what the CMP says on their website.

Oh yeah, I'm planning on getting an 03A3 because I prefer the sights better than those on the 03. Good luck!

March 16, 2005, 09:18 AM
I compete in a monthly vintage military bolt action rifle match, so I see a few of these rifles every month. In addition, I have personally purchased a couple of each from CMP. The 1903s that I have purchased were not good. One looked like the left side of it was against the road as it was dragged through the streets. The second one I ordered had the stock broken completely through in three places. On the other hand, the 1903A3s have been very nice. Maybe even pristine.
As far as which to buy, I can't help you there. They represent two different eras and I wouldn't be happy with owning one or the other. I suppose if I had to choose I would take the 1903 since to me, it has more history and is more interesting. The 1903A3 was kind of a war expedient, although it does offer some significant improvements to the 1903. Right now, and for the last six months or so, the rifle I use to compete in that match I mentioned is a 1903A3.

March 16, 2005, 10:23 AM
The 003 was the last hurdle. I'm a life member in the CRPA, old enough, a US citizen, and will clear the background check.

As I said, I'm leaning towards the 03 (with plans to put on a C stock to make it a 03A1) as I think it's a prettier rifle and carries more history, but I'm leary of getting one with the metal bits worn and road weary. The A3's folks have posted lately just look awesome.


George S.
March 16, 2005, 11:45 AM
I ordered a 1903A3 last year from the CMP. I was curious about condition so I sent an e-mail to the CMP sales unit asking how I could get a nice one for not olny matches but for display. I got a phone call a day later telling em to add my request for condition on the order.

When it showed up (and came with the world's largest supply of cosmoline :D ) I found a late 43 rifle that had been rearsenaled and put away. The barrel was pristine and the grey re-park job had no scratches at all even inside the action. It looked like the bolt was reinstalled after finishing and never re-opened.

This rifle shoots 4" groups at 100 yards with Korean milsurp ammo and I am not the best shot with a high-powered rifle. IMHO, this was the best $420.95 I think I have ever spent.

The CMP doesn't use a C&R, just the required paperwork.

March 16, 2005, 01:23 PM
You should really buy one of each. Get it out of your system now! :)

If you are looking for a shooter, the general concensus is that the 03A3's are the best way to go. Alot of folks find the sights on the 03A3 easier to use than the 03 ladder sight.

I myself like the ladder sight, but I use the notch instead of the peep sight. The peep sight combined with the thin front sight blade makes it REALLY hard to get a good sight picture.

The CMP 03's are hit-or-miss when you order them. If at all possible, go to the north store where you can inspect them. When I ordered my 03 I got a rifle that fell into the "MISS" category. The wood was junk and had a cracked handguard. Plus the bore was in terrible shape.

Whichever way you decide to go, be prepared to spend some serious amounts of time cleaning.

March 16, 2005, 03:28 PM
One looked like the left side of it was against the road as it was dragged through the streets.

That is exactly how I describe mine. It says nothing for the metal though, which is in pretty good shape. Mine is a Mark I, BTW.

When I visited the store, either were in about the same shape. All were rough. I don't know if the good ones are just picked over at the store, or the mail order purposely sends out better rifles, but I didn't see any of the newly rearsenaled rifes spoken about.

My choice? 1903. Used by the US in WWII, and that was what mattered more to me.

March 16, 2005, 03:44 PM
I've been to ODCMP website and was unable to confirm that a C&R would substitute for the "within the last five years" marksmanship requirement. Does any one have a link or first hand experience with this exception. I already have an 03A3 purchased elsewhere and would like to add an 03 to my collection.

March 16, 2005, 03:58 PM

Marksmanship or other Firearms Related Activity

You must provide proof of participation in a marksmanship related activity or otherwise show familiarity with the safe handling of firearms and range procedures. Your marksmanship related activity does not have to be with highpower rifles; it can be with smallbore rifles, pistols, air guns or shotguns. Proof of marksmanship participation can be provided by documenting any of the following:

Current or past military service.

Current or past law enforcement service

Participation in a rifle, pistol, air gun or shotgun competition (provide copy of results bulletin).

Completion of a marksmanship clinic that included live fire training (provide a copy of the certificate of completion or a statement from the instructor).

Distinguished, Instructor, or Coach status.

Concealed Carry License.

Firearms Owner Identification Card.

FFL or C&R license.

Completion of a Hunter Safety Course that included live fire training.

Certification from range or club official or law enforcement officer witnessing shooting activity. A form for use in completing and certifying your range firing can be downloaded from the CMP web site at

No proof of marksmanship required if over age 60.? proof of club membership and citizenship required for all ages.

NOTE: Proof of marksmanship activity is not required for purchase of ammunition, parts, publications or memorabilia.

March 16, 2005, 04:18 PM
Thank you gunsnrovers, I sent an email to ODCMP asking for confirmation and they answered with the same info you posted. They got back to me in less than ten minutes, I was stunned at their speed not to mention the fact that now I can order direct. Woohoo! My wife's not gonna be too happy.

March 16, 2005, 06:52 PM
I got a decent 03 from the CMP (1919 RIA with a '23 SA bbl). There is no finish on any of the exposed metal, and the stock has a couple bumps, but overall, it looks like a well used, not-to-abused rifle. It shoots pretty close to 1MoA with match ammo.

The battle sight (ladder down) is set for 549yds when using M2 Ball. If I remember correctly, when they went from M1 ball (173grs FMJ) to M2 ball, nobody but the Marines changed the height of the front sight to bring the BZ in (and there weren't many Marines in those days). When the 03 was on the firing line at military matches, the battle sight was required during the rapid fire stages, so everyone had to hold low (down at the bottom of the paper). Adjusting for windage is pretty simple. Precise adjustment for elevation is not as easy without an O'Hare sight adjustment micrometer (Ray-Vin is making excellent reproductions). Still, the ladder is indexed, so you should be able to get pretty close.

The ladder is indexed to something like 2750yds. If you look closely, you'll notice that the left rail (at the top in the photo below) gets wider as you move up which moves the aperatures to the right. This is to account for gyroscopic precession of the bullet. Gravity actually pushes the bullet to the left which becomes significant at ridiculous ranges.

The peep on the 03A3 is adjustable in 50yd increments (~2 and some change MoA for each detent).

I think the 03 with the finger-groove stock and the high hump handguard is the best looking of the bunch.


kayak bum
March 17, 2005, 02:36 PM
Another vote for one of each. You can't go wrong, and they wont be around for ever.

March 17, 2005, 03:21 PM
FWIW: First hand knowledge of the CMP and the 03 C&R:

I went to the North Store at Camp Perry on Feb 5th, 2005. I had never made a purchase with the CMP. I was going to get my first M1 Garand.

I took a copy of my Birth Certificate, copy of my 03 FFL and my Drivers License. I signed up for the Ohio Rifle and Pistol Association at the North Store which took care of my "club affliation".

Spent about 1/2 hour picking out a rifle, paid and left. Easy as that.

cracked butt
March 17, 2005, 08:14 PM
03A3- even if you get an odd one with a bad bore, new-in-wrap replacement barrels are cheap and readily available, not so with the 1903.

My only problem with the 03A3 is the lack of infinite adjustablity for elevation. Mine originally shot high, so I used the original front sight as a pattern to make a taller front sight. I now shoot only cast lead loads through it so I replaced the original shorter front sight.

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