1903 Springfield Rifle Rehab


October 5, 2012, 08:51 PM
I just got through restoring/rehabilitating a few Springfield '03 and '03-A3 rifles and thought I'd share them with you

First up is a 1942 Remington 1903 that I had been trying to get from a friend of mine for the last twenty years or so. He had received it as a gift from a friend of his many years before and it had sat in a rifle rack in his bedroom ever since. I guess I finally wore him down by promising to take good care of it and never selling unless it was back to him.

Here is what I started with:

Thanks to the internet I was able to find the correct pieces to bring it back to it's former glory including a Remington '03 stock.



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October 5, 2012, 09:02 PM
This was a mostly complete rifle that had a part from every variation of the 1903 rifle series on it. The only thing that I reused was the receiver and the stock. The rest was either sold or was used on another project.

No 'before' pictures but here is how it looks now.


I was able to find the correct 9-43 barrel.


Inspector markings that are unique to Remington '03-A3's


The final proof mark is 7/16" diameter, smaller than the one used by Springfield Armory and Smith-Corona.


October 5, 2012, 09:08 PM
Good work, they both look amazing!

Vern Humphrey
October 5, 2012, 09:22 PM
Very nice -- the Remington '03s were supposedly the best ever made. I do notice you're missing a part on the '03, the stacking swivel.

October 5, 2012, 09:26 PM
All I had when I started this one was a receiver and a barrel that had been ruined.


Your tax dollars at work.


I managed to score a really nice S-C stock off of ebay and decided to make this one as correct as I could. Unfortunately I don't think I will ever be able to find a 1-43 dated six groove barrel like the one that the government so thoughtfully drilled and welded, but I did still have the replacement barrel that came off the Remington A3.

Nevertheless, I think it came out OK.


Final inspection cartouches are smiler to the Remington


The inspection stamps look the same but use different shapes/numbers. note also that the front of the trigger guard has a radius at the front screw, while Remington's are straight across.


Firing proof is 1/2" in diameter.


The cut for the band spring has rounded corners instead of being square.


Butt plate has coarser checkering than Remington butt plates.


The safety lug on the bolt is square instead of being sculptured.


Well that's it. I hope you enjoy looking at these rifles as much I enjoyed bringing them back from the dead.

October 5, 2012, 09:28 PM
Very nice -- the Remington '03s were supposedly the best ever made. I do notice you're missing a part on the '03, the stacking swivel.

That picture was taken before I had put the stacking swivel on. Good eye!

Here it is with the missing piece.


October 5, 2012, 10:21 PM
Nice work on restoring the '03's.

I'm not postive, but I believe the bolts that don't have the sculpted 3rd lug were replacement parts made by a subcontractor. There should be a mark somewhere on it that identifies it, tho the squared lug bolts may not have markings.

I may have a Remington bolt (and maybe a different manufacturer, but don't think a Smith Corona) if you're interested. If you want it, it should headspace OK, but getting it checked is always a good idea. One guy that builds '03 told me he'd only seen one in 20 years that didn't headspace. The parts made for '03's were made to very good specs for the most part.

October 5, 2012, 11:01 PM
There seems to be a difference of opinion amongst collectors as to the square lug/sculptured lug thing. J.C. Harrison says that they have the square lug and I had an original (I think) S-C many years ago that had an unmarked square lug bolt. Brophy doesn't really mention the 'A-3 rifles in any detail. I have seen others that had the more traditional type lug but I have no clue as to the absolute originality of those rifles.

Actually, I have both types. The sculptured bolt I have looks for all the world like a Remington, but is unmarked. It is definitely too crudely made to be a Springfield or a Rock Island, so I think it could be a S-C, but I just don't know. The bolt that was in the action was a Remington so I know THAT one isn't right.

Thank you for your offer though, I am going to leave it as is for right now and move on to another project that I have in the works.

October 6, 2012, 07:50 AM
Canfield's book has a chapter on the 03A3 and covers both makers. Normally the SC bolts have a"X" on top the handle. Replacement SC bolts can be marked "CC" and "BF", I see a lot of these on the market.

I would like to find a SC stock like you did. I have a SC in a 99.9% Rem stock and would like to find a equally nice SC stock.

October 6, 2012, 08:15 AM
The one I installed is a "CC". As I said I don't think this one is ever going to be perfect, but sometimes half the fun is the search for the correct parts.

I found that stock with the handguard on ebay. It sat there for the entire time it was listed for $125. I sniped in and got it for $127.50. It was amazing to find a S-C stock in that good of condition for so reasonable a price.

October 6, 2012, 08:26 AM
Those are some real nice restorations. Good job.
I'm surprised the rear sight was still on the 1st one. Most of the sporters are drilled and tapped for a scope.

stan rose
October 7, 2012, 09:51 AM
Those rifles look great. Good work and good luck.

October 8, 2012, 12:02 AM
that's interesting. I though remington only did A3s and A4s but a quick trip to oldguns.net and sure enough they did make standard 1903s...however I would like to point out that they point your serial to a 1941 manufacture:D

October 8, 2012, 07:25 AM
There is a difference in manufacturing dates between some serial number tables. I don't know where the OldGuns.net got their information, but all the lists based on factory records that I have seen place the date of manufacture of my Remington '03 #3240235 at September 1942. The highest serial number produced by the end of December '41 was 3005963.

The Remington factory bought the machinery to produce the Model 1903 rifle from Rock Island Arsenal. The earliest '03's produced there were exactly the same as the last rifles produced by Rock Island and were beautifully finished. In order to speed production Remington asked for, and received, permission to take various measures to allow them to make them faster. Those shortcuts would eventually produce a rifle that would warrant new nomenclature, the US Rifle Model 1903-A3.

By the time my rifle was made in September of 1942 the changes that would morph the rifle into the A3 model had been approved but hadn't yet been fully implemented. There are some minor differences though, between mine and a earlier rifle. Chief among them and the easiest to recognize is that the scallops on the rear sight base are no longer being done after around April (or maybe a little earlier), 1942 and the stock no longer has the grasping grooves. Also the machining became cruder as '42 wore on until the machined finish looked very much like the finish found on the 1903-A3 rifles.

October 8, 2012, 08:07 AM
Excellent work! The O3A3 is my FAVORITE rifle.....

October 8, 2012, 08:20 AM
All gorgeous. Nice work!

October 8, 2012, 12:22 PM
That looks great! I did something similar with one I picked up at a pawn shop.

Before: (in the middle)


I went with a C-Stock instead of a more correct straight stock simply for shooting comfort. I broke my arm when I was 12 and shooting straight-stocked guns can get painful after a little while. Still trying to figure out how I ended up with 6 mosins. :confused: They all have straight stocks. :)


October 8, 2012, 07:43 PM
Nice job on the '03. My next project is a target rifle I'm going to build from a spare C stock and a high number action that I have laying around. I am going to commit sacrilege and install a Lyman 48C rear sight and a Marbles gold bead front blade on it. My eyes are just too old to shoot well with the stock '03 sights.

October 8, 2012, 09:43 PM
Great work! You helped preserve a piece of history, I commend you on your effort!

It always breaks my heart when I see a sloppy sporterized 1903 or just about any milsurp for that matter. There's always a voice in the back of my head screaming "buy it and save it!"

October 8, 2012, 11:25 PM
Very nice work, indeed!

October 15, 2012, 01:36 PM
Nice job! I bought a 1903 from the CMPs a while ago complete with cosmoline. What a mess. It was a mismatch of 03 and A3 parts and looked like it had been dragged through every war in the 20th Century. The chamber was ok so I restored it to almost original. It has a S-C stock, a later rear sight slide and a reproduction 1907 sling. They are a labor of love.

October 15, 2012, 02:45 PM
Love them! I have an 03 (1918) and an 03-A3 (1942). The 03 is amazing in the amount of millwork that it took to make them. No shortcuts there.

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