Springfield 1903 Rock Island Arsenal


May 22, 2014, 12:01 PM
I have a serial number 268591. I have believed that it is a no shooter based on the accepted miminum serial number of 285507. I was recently discussing a possible trade for a 8MM mauser even trade. the collector seemed too eager. Is my gun really a no shooter or is it just don't take a chance? Seems like less than 20,000 serial number guns between no and okay might be a little over cautious. I would appreciate your knowledge and experience on this. Thanks in advance for your comments. I am tempted to try it!

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Jim K
May 22, 2014, 03:13 PM
If the 1903 is in good shape and all original, it is worth several times the value of most Mausers, regardless of the type of heat treatment.

The problem with those low-number M1903's is that there is no non-destructive test to determine which are OK and which might be dangerous. The serial number situation is only that anything over a certain number will be OK, while anything under might be either good or bad. So over is OK, under is a crapshoot.


May 22, 2014, 04:15 PM
Depends on how paranoid you are... lots of guys shoot the "no shooters."

I don't think I would, personally, but I have a couple shooters to shoot. :)

Jim K
May 22, 2014, 08:12 PM
Some have argued that there is no danger today because all the single heat treated rifles that were going to blow already have. Since I have no idea (and neither does anyone else, no matter what they say) how many brittle ones there were, or how many have let go, I am not fond of the odds. FWIW, I broke a 1903 SHT receiver with a light ball-peen hammer. It shattered into three pieces and I turned a bit green because I had been shooting that rifle the day before. So being just a bit paranoid might not be a bad thing.


May 25, 2014, 10:11 PM
I have a Springfield in the 500,000 range, and I shoot it. It has a bran spankin new looking barrel on it with a date stamp of '43. It must have been one of the arsenal rebuilds during the war. The rifle is in beautiful shape, I believe I gave $175 for it about 15 years ago. I got it cheap probably because of its low serial number.

I don't have a lot of rounds through it, but she hasn't blown up yet. Someday I'll get around to shooting it in service rifle competition.

I also ride a bicycle (to try to stay in shape a bit). Statistically, you are about 1000 times more likely to be killed by an automobile while riding a bike on the road than for one of the low number 1903's to let loose on you. I'm good with those odds.



Jim K
May 26, 2014, 04:22 PM
I don't ride a bike on the road, either, but life is nothing but a series of choices.


May 26, 2014, 07:11 PM
The rifle has lasted this long, it will most likely last a few more rounds. Depending on what your rifle looks like and which Mauser he has I would bet your rifle is worth more.

May 26, 2014, 07:22 PM
The first sentence of post #2 is spot on why he is over eager to trade straight up. Dont give it away.

June 1, 2014, 03:13 PM
There is another post on this that is active right now. I'd read the other thread too to get all the input. I'm not typing all that stuff again.

The Army's test is destructive if the receiver is brittle. If it is a good receiver I think it survives the test?

Since for 99% of us, 99% of our guns are luxury items and we can survive the night without them. I'd recommend not doing anything that makes you nervous. If it is not fun it is not worth the stress. If you need to take the shot to survive a deadly encounter then I would worry much less about the possible heat treat situation on a rifle that has been fired a lot already and is statistically very likely to be fine. Read Hatcher's Notebook on the issue and that might help you a lot.

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