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I just picked this up for $750 and trying to get more information on it. It appears to be a made in 1911 or 1912 but rebuilt later on. Barrel shows 9-44. Curious to see if it’s authentic or something someone may have pieced together. I am trying to figure out if its a good find and also trying to get more input on it and more info with the numbers on stock. I also hear these are not safe to shoot due to the single heat treated receiver, is this correct? Any help is appreciated. Thank you.
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I will tell you my two bits on it,

First off I am sure someone will link up about a billion different articles that say this that or the other on why it is unsafe. My two bits is it was serviced in 9-44, so likely the original barrel was "shot out", doubt it killed anyone then that was holding it.

You are likely to get most people saying just looking at it will make it explode and kill everyone in a 3 mile radius. Personally I would say do your own research, look at the numbers and make your decision.

As to what (I) do, I shoot mine but with reduced loads. I found some 3006 "youth" loads and went that route, actually have 4x 5 round boxes ready to go whenever I get around to it.

In the end this is a 100+ yr old gun.

That all said, if I did not reload would I shoot mine, nope. Would I shoot factory "garand safe" loads, nope. Shoot my "youth" powder puff loads, yup and not worry.

I am sure I will be called an idiot for doing this for the past 30 years.
 

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Nice rifle! Barrel is definitly not original but the US rebuilt these rifles constantly, and rebuilt a significant amount of low numbers for WWII training use.

The marks are all normal markings, the stock numbers/letters are probably just rack numbers. Armories had different ways of marking the rifles so they could be easily identified in the racks. This was (and still is) usually unit driven and there is no way of telling what unit by the rack number.

As for shooting, I personally wouldn't shoot it but it is up to you. Per Hatchers Notebook, there were a total of 68 documented receiver failures from 1917 to 1929. That is 68 out of over 1 million low number rifles, a pretty low failure rate. There may have been more failures before or after, who knows.

The Army went back and forth on the issue, at first condemming them to scrap, then saying they are safe with standard ammo (hence the huge rebuild program during WWII). The Marines issued low numbers till they adopted the Garand.

Most of the documented failures are attributed to poor quality ammo produced during WWI. Case head failures can still happen with more modern ammo (look at the PS Korean ammo) but is very uncommon. If your rifle has a poor heat treat and you have a case head failure it could theoritically burst.

There is no test to be able to be sure that your rifle is safe. However, like the poster above many are still being fired. And, the production methods for other rifles made around the same period (Mausers, Enfileds, 1917s, etc) were very similar and people don't have issues shooting them.
 

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Looks like you have a improved bolt, replaced barrel and front barrel band and 2 bolt stock. Nice looking 03. Would shoot reloaded ammo as mentioned. Could replace front barrel band to “ display” as WWI 03. Just sold my beloved RIA 03 with 42 dated barrel that I used in WWI re enacting and displays, bad shoulder is no fun.
IMHO you got an Ok deal.
 

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I have one from 1907, shoot it with M2 ball all the time, no issues. There were less than 70 recorded failures in over a million rifles and that was almost entirely with inconsistent WW2 ammo, there were also 6 recorded failures of M1917 rifles which no one talks about, and there have been hundreds of recorded failures of M1 Garand rifles and nobody worries about those exploding either. All the 1903s in that low range went through World War 1 and a fair amount saw use into world war 2, even if just as training or second line rifles. I'd just go over the receiver carefully with a bright light as I did see TFB post about a 1903 a guy had bought that had cracks in it's receiver which obviously would be a serious issue. But overall there's over a million of these guns made and it is very difficult to find any first hand proven account of a catastrophic receiver failure after the war that didn't involve handloads, sketchy bubba workmanship, or possible bore obstruction from field use or something. I have yet to see a smoking gun "I took my stock 1903 out, dropped a 150GR round in it, and it exploded in my face." If someone can point me to that I'd love to see it but It usually comes down to "well in 1977 my uncle had a buddy who had a sportered rifle and he dropped it and I swear the receiver shattered like glass!" Yes, low number 1903s have failed, so have some number of basically every model of rifle ever. If it bothers you then shoot it remotely to test it first and see how it does, or if that's too much then just sell it and get a post war gun. But I hope people realize that essentially every single WW1 used 1903 falls in this range.
 

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Pprobably was rebuilt at some point. Receiver should be fine, just don't go pushing the spiciest, heaviest loads you can find through it. I'd stick with nothing hotter than M2 ball and equivalents if it was me. A lot of the issues with them came from bad lots of ammo, soldiers putting 8mm in them, bubba putting a piss load best saved for a 1917, etc. Enjoy your find!
 

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No one has mentioned there was a difference in M-1 ball and later M-2 ball. IIRC M-1 ball had heavier bullet and a little faster. I have some M-1 dated in the 20’s.
 

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The sticky is at the top of this forum, it has 117 entries so it's quite a read.

My personal attitude on these is that in the hundred and some odd years since they were made and the thousands that were rebuilt during WWII, the ones that were going to fail have already done so.
I came to this conclusion long before the archived data (of the prewar military testing) was discovered.
As noted, of the million plus rifles built, less than 70 failed, of those failures many were due to circumstances that could happen to any rifle, I.E., an 8x57 round in a 30-06 rifle or sub standard quality ammo.
Having said that though, I would hesitate to turn the thing into a bullet hose and run it like I stole it.
It is, after all, a hundred plus years old, there was also a report I read, again from the military testing, that the right receiver wall was subject to cracking if subjected to a hard knock, the big question in this report was that it wasn't consistent as to location of impact.
Like tempered glass, you have to hit the "sweet spot" for anything to happen.
I have seen a couple that have been abused harshly over the years and are still chugging along so, at the end of the day, it's up to you, to run it or not.
 

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No one has mentioned there was a difference in M-1 ball and later M-2 ball. IIRC M-1 ball had heavier bullet and a little faster. I have some M-1 dated in the 20’s.
That's because M1 didn't start really getting used until the early 1930's iirc, and M2 was pretty much a replication of the M1906 Ball that these rifles were engineered to use (after the ditching of 30-03).
 

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I would add that unless you are hunting with the rifle I see no need to push the bullet that hard, push it to where the bullet needs to perform on game, or to where you are accurate at the distance you are going to be using it for a hole punch. For the record I down load all my old girls, as I see no positive to hit them with "normal" loads.
 

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Pprobably was rebuilt at some point. Receiver should be fine, just don't go pushing the spiciest, heaviest loads you can find through it. I'd stick with nothing hotter than M2 ball and equivalents if it was me. A lot of the issues with them came from bad lots of ammo, soldiers putting 8mm in them, bubba putting a piss load best saved for a 1917, etc. Enjoy your find!
It's funny to me that people always say the 1917 is way stronger and is built so tough, Othias from C&Rsenal mentioned reports of at least 6 M1917 receiver failures during the war. For me, if it's a US rifle chambered for 30 06 then it gets M2 ball, that's what they're designed for, they shoot great with it, and I'm not running any CMP or NRA matches with a hundred year old rifle anytime soon so I don't need sub MOA groups.
 

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That's because M1 didn't start really getting used until the early 1930's iirc, and M2 was pretty much a replication of the M1906 Ball that these rifles were engineered to use (after the ditching of 30-03).
Just mentioning M-1 as reading Hatcher’s notebook years ago has good article as well as “ Small Arms Ammunition of the World”. M-1 ball went through the back stops on many Army ranges according to Hatcher, good reading. IIRC M-1 was designed for 1917 water cooled MG’s.
 

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Just mentioning M-1 as reading Hatcher’s notebook years ago has good article as well as “ Small Arms Ammunition of the World”. M-1 ball went through the back stops on many Army ranges according to Hatcher, good reading. IIRC M-1 was designed for 1917 water cooled MG’s.
I'd always heard that the problem with M1 ball was that it's ballistics meant that it would fly too far if it missed the backstop to where it would be dangerous if someone missed the target or had an accidental discharge in the wrong direction, so like if the safe distance behind every army range was 1 mile the. M1 ball went 1.25 miles and so they scaled it back with M2 ball so it wouldn't overshoot into anything critical of you missed the backstop.
 

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need a bit more info to talk about originality etc,
bolt markings,
any cartouches on the stock?
good look at the action on both sides,
if possible barrel marks with handguards off, and out of the stock,


otherwise, shoot or not shoot is up to you ,

I would suggest looking for posts in this section by CplNorton for low number 1903's, read what he has found and posted, and then decide for yourself
 

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wrong 1917,,, others were referring to the rilfle, not the water cool,

and yes, they are a blast to shoot, as well as the 1919
Yea, know that was just commenting on using a 1917 MG with M-1 ball with the heaver bullet. We used to shoot on a N.G. range that said no M-2s as housing was being built 3-4 miles away.
 

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need a bit more info to talk about originality etc,
bolt markings,
any cartouches on the stock?
good look at the action on both sides,
if possible barrel marks with handguards off, and out of the stock,


otherwise, shoot or not shoot is up to you ,

I would suggest looking for posts in this section by CplNorton for low number 1903's, read what he has found and posted, and then decide for yourself
Yes, CplNorton, that's who I was thinking of when I made the comment about prewar military testing, sadly I could not remember the name, only that I had followed his threads with great interest.

As far as substandard military arms in US service, hunt up data on the Eddystone barrel failure problem.
There wasn't any way to dance around that one though.
 

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It's funny to me that people always say the 1917 is way stronger and is built so tough, Othias from C&Rsenal mentioned reports of at least 6 M1917 receiver failures during the war. For me, if it's a US rifle chambered for 30 06 then it gets M2 ball, that's what they're designed for, they shoot great with it, and I'm not running any CMP or NRA matches with a hundred year old rifle anytime soon so I don't need sub MOA groups.
The thing is you don't need to hit them even with that much pressure. The youth 3006 loads I talked about are very mild. I would not say they are sub MOA, but the rifle is not that in the first place. If I remember correctly it is shooting roughly as well as it did when I ran factory ammo in it, you know before the internet told me I would blow my face off looking at it.
 
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