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Need advice on Springfield 1903

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Preacherman, Jan 19, 2004.

  1. Preacherman

    Preacherman Well-Known Member

    Hi, shootin' buddies. I've been offered a very good condition Springfield 1903 rifle by my dealer. He wants $595 for it, but I can beat him down a bit, I'm sure. The receiver serial number dates it to 1931 production, and the wood and metal are all in pretty good condition.

    I know virtually nothing about the 1903 or 03-A3 series rifles: I just want a good (shooting) example to add to my collection of milsurps. Is this a fair price for a 1903? Also, according to the dealer, the 03-A3 rifles were made with less-high-quality parts and manufacturing processes to speed up production in WWII. Is this correct?

    Many thanks in advance for your answers.
  2. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    What is the barrel date? If it is SA and the same year as production date, it is probably original, but many '03's were rebarrelled in WWII. Also, describe the stock. I assume it is original military and not cut down, and also that the receiver, sights, etc. are original and not messed with.

    The dealer is wrong on '03A3 quality as regards to material. In that respect, those guns were the last and best of the '03 type and were made of the highest quality steel. He is right, though, in that the careful machining and polishing were skipped in order to achieve high production, and the guns show a lot of toolmarks and roughness. They are well made where they have to be, but in some areas are pretty rough. As an example, the barrels are beautifully bored and rifled, but the outside often looks like they were machined with a dull hatchet.

  3. Kestrel

    Kestrel Well-Known Member


    I don't remember the exact serial number cutoff, but there were some 1903s that had defective heat treating. I think the number is around 800K, but verify that to make sure. I would bet, with it being made in 31, that it is probably later than the 800K mark. You just want to get one after the serial number cutoff.

    You'll probably love it. I recently got a 1903 and a 1903A3 and really like them both.

    Good luck,
  4. Swamprabbit

    Swamprabbit Well-Known Member

    Dittos to above - the 'A3 is inferior to the 03 only in the looks department. Otherwise, they are every bit as good and probably better if you consider that they have better sights. I have one of each with my A3 being a 2-groove barrel Remington and favored over my 03.

    The price of $595 for an 03 is by no means a steal. If it is a truly original piece you may be okay. You can try checking with the folks over on Battlerifles.com - there are some knowledgeable 03 guys over there who may be able to help you out more. You may also want to check on gun auction sites such as gunbroker.com to see what 03s are selling for (not asking price but selling prices) to help you gauge the market.
  5. jrhead75

    jrhead75 Well-Known Member

    Yup, 800k was the cutoff for the suspect heat treatment, any s/n's after that are ok. Since that was back around the WWI timeframe, any '30s production receivers should be fine.
  6. Ledbetter

    Ledbetter Well-Known Member

    Preacherman, I've got an 03A3 and it is sweet. Not many of the 1903's left.

    You might want to visit


  7. Preacherman

    Preacherman Well-Known Member

    I did some checking up, with the enthusiastic assistance of my dealer, who's also interested in this rifle's history. (It really is in excellent condition for an un-refinished rifle - certainly issue-ready.) We contacted Springfield to check on the serial number, and also checked the barrel date.

    Guess what? The barrel is the original 1910-issue unit. In 1931, the old receiver (which had the poor heat treatment) was arsenal-replaced with a new one, but the original barrel was retained, as (apparently) was the rest of the rifle. So the odds are excellent that this rifle saw service in WW1. If it saw service in WW2 as well, it must have been re-stocked, as the present stock doesn't show much wear. The rifling is clean and sharp, with no corrosion present. The rifle even has the original cleaning kit in the buttstock!

    The guy who traded it in was an elderly gentleman, who said he bought it shortly after WW2, and kept it in his gun cabinet for decades, shooting it once or twice, but largely holding on to it for sentimental reasons. It looks like I'll be able to get it for about $500, after negotiating with my dealer (who's a good buddy as well - useful, that! :D ). At present, having examined it closely and learned its history, I'm inclined to go for it.
  8. Buckskinner

    Buckskinner Well-Known Member

    Y'know, CMP is a bit cheaper, and...

    I think I'm following your thread correctly. So the rifles' almost correct but with a different receiver? Does that make sense? And the original (almost 100 years old) cleaning kit? C'mon now...Ain't that a stretch? Two world wars, etc. etc. and the original cleaning kit? And the stock is replaced? Is it just me? This is a joke right? So what's original, the barrel and the cleaning kit?

    Don't add up...Please disregard if there's a misunderstanding here...
  9. Houndawg

    Houndawg Well-Known Member

    You can probably get one cheaper from the CMP.
  10. Roadkill

    Roadkill Well-Known Member

    $500 for an 03 that's still all there is about the best you will find from a dealer. If you can get one before it hits the shop the prices are better. I picked up a very good condition 03A3 for $250 at at gun show, was semi bubbaed but was able to restore it. My 03 is a WWII rebarrel, I shoot it less than the 03A3 cause of my problem with seeing the sights.


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