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03A3 front sight blade question

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by 68LRRP, Nov 7, 2006.

  1. 68LRRP

    68LRRP Member

    Encountered what seems to be a common problem with a '43 03A3...shooting high at close range. About 8-10 in high at 70 yds with the rear sight all the way down. Guess this has to do with the battlesight zero which I read is over 450 yds. The goal (right or wrong) is to make it shoot pretty flat out to a couple hundred yards for deer, and adjust the rear up in the unlikely event I want to reach out farther. So took the blade off and rotated it 90 degrees and ground the new botton flat to refit the pin and now have a bit taller blade, but have not been back to the range to see exactly how much improvement there is.

    But..now the taller blade is pretty high in the front shroud. I'd like to keep the shroud on as I find it easier to hit that way .... I'm no great marksman.

    The Question: Are the laws of physics just against me in trying to have the blade top more centered in a standard shroud and still have a 1-200yd default battlesight? I don't see how it can be done, but maybe somebody here can figure it out.

    My favorite sight picture ever was on the M-14, the way the peep settled into the V of the outside blades, and the main blade automatically centered itself so nice in the aperture. Is it possible to fit one like that on the front of an 03A3? Or would the original 03A3 rear sight make blade height issues there, too?
  2. nbkky71

    nbkky71 Well-Known Member

    The 03A3 rifles had 5 interchangeable blades labeled 'A' - 'E', with the 'A' being the tallest.

    Check the front sight blade on your rifle and see what letter your front sight blade has on it. If you're shooting a 'C' then try a 'B' or 'A' to bring down your point of impact.

    The heights of the blade are as follows. Each letter change is worth about 2MOA @ 100yds.

    A = 0.537
    B = 0.522
    C = 0.507
    D = 0.492
    E = 0.477

    Also remember that the sights on the 03A3 were meant for M2 ball ammo, shooting a 150 gr bullet at approx 2800fps.
  3. 68LRRP

    68LRRP Member

    thanks nb

    Thanks, Had no idea there were different blades. My modification of the one that was in it raised it a bit, but will have to measure to see if it matches any of the specs you gave.

    What was the reasoning behind this? Different battlesight zeroes? Did each rifle originally come with the other four in the butt kit?

    But I think I'm stuck with the non-centered blade tip in the shroud, correct? Or are there possibly different shrouds available to match these different blades?

    Thanks again for the education,
  4. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    I don't think it was meant for the gun to be shot with that sheet metal shroud over the sight. It was to protect the sight blade in shipping.

    They furnished different height sights to rough zero the rifles with. They are all different, manufacturing methods were (are) not accurate enough to make them all shoot the same.
  5. Blackfork

    Blackfork Well-Known Member

    1903-A3 front sights

    There was a USMC front sight which is a thick, flat, post, just like it really ought to be. Anyone know where to get one? I've seen them and had a reference once, but the reference turned out to be a dead end.

    Amen on shooting without the shroud. You can make it work with the lower blades, but usually the rifle shoots high at 100 so the lower blades make that even WORSE.

    Front blade sight is the worst feature of that rifle. Got mine zeroed for a doe this weekend, but have a piece of tape on the side reminding me to hold a pretty serious six O'clock hold. I can hold the bottom edge of a whitetail at 100 yards and still hit a high heart/lung shot.
  6. nbkky71

    nbkky71 Well-Known Member

    The sight you are referring to is the No.10, which was used by the USMC on the 1903, not the 1903A3. The front blade was .10" wide, hence the name. There is also a corresponding rear slide assembly with a .10" peep sight.

    Bill Bentz (dcm450shtr@comcast.net) makes reproduction USMC No.10 sight sets. Can't remember the exact price, but they're not cheap. I've got a set installed on my 1903A1 and they're great.
  7. 68LRRP

    68LRRP Member

    my logic was shrouded

    You know, you're right...I liked the idea of making the circles of the peep and the shroud concentric in the sight picture. Thought that would speed up target acquisition. Then if I could just get that blade top as a bull's eye in the middle, I'd be home free. My Dad's 1950 Win30-30 has a much better fitting shroud that he had never taken off. I just thought it was part of the program and I didn't question it further.

    Duh...all the while knowing there was lots of slop in the 03's non-precision stamped shroud , but not going any further than grumbling that they sure could have done that a little better.

    Of course it's not meant to be "in the picture". It easily rotates a good bit, and if knocked sideways then you got a really ugly picture and instead of saving time in sighting it would be a distraction. As Jim pointed out, it protects the sight but not meant to be a functional part of the rifle.

    Gonna check into putting the M-14 style three-blade up front cause I do like the second reference point.

    Thanks guys, the shroud's staying in the truck when shooting.

  8. Blackfork

    Blackfork Well-Known Member

    USMC #10s

    Thanks for the info. I've been looking for these all over the place, especially in here. Thanks for the info!
  9. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    You will, of course, be socially ostracized if you go chopping the front sight off a previously unaltered 03A3; but it's your rifle, Bubba.

    You might want to check the ads and sale sites, Lyman once made a version of their No 17 globe front sight that would fit a Springfield barrel without alteration. Perfectly round, perfectly centered interchangeable inserts.
  10. 68LRRP

    68LRRP Member

    Thanks, Jim...good idea. It's not a fine collectors' piece that you daren't shoot, but it's in real good shape & hasn't been sporterized which is why I bought it. Not going to rush into anything that makes irreversable alterations.....too much honorable history in the gun.
  11. Blackfork

    Blackfork Well-Known Member


    Sounds like the Number 10 MIGHT be CMP legal for a 1903 but NOT the 1903A3. Too bad, if true.

    Not many 1903A3s shot in competition. I think the Garand knocked it out when it knocked out the rest of the 1903s at Camp Perry.

    I shot my 1903A3 at the Texas Garand Championship during the Springfield Match. The rear sight didn't have a spring/detent under the windage knob. Someone brought me a part on the second day. The ejector then broke during the sighters so I DNFed with that rifle. Got that replaced now. Won the Vintage Military match with a K31 and was second in Garand and M1 Carbine. Got them all zeroed for deer season but probably won't shoot any of them much until next years match. Maybe at Perry. Maybe. If i do shoot I expect to have competitive rifles. Sounds like I might be looking for an 1903 to put a Number 10 front sight on. I don't know what those Springfield designers were thinking. Even the P17 has ears and a post up front.

    IMHO, unaltered military rifles should be left in original state, or restored, but others may think differently.

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