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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello

A friend of mine bought for 500 euros a 1903 Springfield

Your opinion about rifle / brittle reciever / rear sight aperture (larger than seen on other 1903s) ?

moblotaire from France

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The barrel has obviously been replaced, as the receiver is a 1917 number. The stock looks like it could have 1917 features, low wood and two crossbolts.

Yes, the receiver is in the single heat treat range. Plenty of information available on low number receivers.
 

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Is there another indication of a replaced barrel, it looks like the date is SA 17 but the "1" is hard to read....

As for low numbers, below 800,000 is generally considered a low number for a springfield receiver from what I've read.

Frank

The barrel has obviously been replaced, as the receiver is a 1917 number. The stock looks like it could have 1917 features, low wood and two crossbolts.

Yes, the receiver is in the single heat treat range. Plenty of information available on low number receivers.
 

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Nice! Price is comparable to what you can find them for today "state-side" Interesting seeing one with such a dark finish.

It looks like the bolt is a double heat treat bolt as the handle is swept back (which is good for you if you want to shoot) From an engineering standpoint, a brittle bolt would be worse than a brittle receiver.... I would only shoot M2 ball loads in it though.... Modern 30-06 loads are more powerful than the M2ball mill-spec ammo.

Regarding the low # from the CMP Website: http://thecmp.org/cmp_sales/rifle_sales/m1903-m1903a3/
WARNING ON “LOW-NUMBER” SPRINGFIELDS

M1903 rifles made before February 1918 utilized receivers and bolts which were single heat-treated by a method that rendered some of them brittle and liable to fracture when fired, exposing the shooter to a risk of serious injury. It proved impossible to determine, without destructive testing, which receivers and bolts were so affected and therefore potentially dangerous.

To solve this problem, the Ordnance Department commenced double heat treatment of receivers and bolts. This was commenced at Springfield Armory at approximately serial number 800,000 and at Rock Island Arsenal at exactly serial number 285,507. All Springfields made after this change are commonly called “high number” rifles. Those Springfields made before this change are commonly called “low-number” rifles.

In view of the safety risk the Ordnance Department withdrew from active service all “low-number” Springfields. During WWII, however, the urgent need for rifles resulted in the rebuilding and reissuing of many “low-number” as well as “high-number” Springfields. The bolts from such rifles were often mixed during rebuilding, and did not necessarily remain with the original receiver.

Generally speaking, “low number” bolts can be distinguished from “high-number” bolts by the angle at which the bolt handle is bent down. All “low number” bolts have the bolt handle bent straight down, perpendicular to the axis of the bolt body. High number bolts have “swept-back” (or slightly rearward curved) bolt handles.

A few straight-bent bolts are of the double heat-treat type, but these are not easily identified, and until positively proved otherwise ANY straight-bent bolt should be assumed to be “low number”. All original swept-back bolts are definitely “high number”. In addition, any bolt marked “N.S.” (for nickel steel) can be safely regarded as “high number” if obtained directly from CMP (beware of re-marked fakes).
CMP DOES NOT RECOMMEND FIRING ANY SPRINGFIELD RIFLE WITH A ”LOW NUMBER” RECEIVER. Such rifles should be regarded as collector’s items, not “shooters”.
CMP ALSO DOES NOT RECOMMEND FIRING ANY SPRINGFIELD RIFLE, REGARDLESS OF SERIAL NUMBER, WITH A SINGLE HEAT-TREATED “LOW NUMBER” BOLT. SUCH BOLTS, WHILE HISTORICALLY CORRECT FOR DISPLAY WITH A RIFLE OF WWI OR EARLIER VINTAGE, MAY BE DANGEROUS TO USE FOR SHOOTING.
THE UNITED STATES ARMY GENERALLY DID NOT SERIALIZE BOLTS. DO NOT RELY ON ANY SERIAL NUMBER APPEARING ON A BOLT TO DETERMINE WHETHER SUCH BOLT IS “HIGH NUMBER” OR “LOW NUMBER”.
 

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For what it is worth, the story is that a very significant number of the Free French troops that were supplied with US weapons during World War II were equipped with low-number 1903's.

It just happened to be that the low number rifles were what was available at the time in the war that those units were being fitted out, and it also might just explain how this particular rifle is still in France.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hello

My friend told me that he could have made a mistake , he thinks that the date is 17 not 7.
Would it be correct ? barrel date vs SN on reciever (1631XX)

Alas that rifle is not mine ...

moblotaire
PS = I am not that destitute I have two 1903s , one pre WWI and the other dated 12 - 41
 

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It seems to me, that there is far too much space between the dash and the 7. And SA would never have stamped it 12- 7....it would have been stamped 12-07 or 12-17 to eliminate confusion. I just went thru Brophy's book and Canfields book and I did not see on example of a single didget year date stamp on the BBL. So you may have a winner here. Are there any Cartouche stamps visible? I do not know what the exchange rate is, but I think he may have hit a home run. Annnnnd! Where would someone have found a 1907 BBl to put on a 1917 rifle? Does not make much sense, WOULD LOVE TO SEE MORE PIX! [email protected] and I'll send you pix of my Rod Bayonet 03! ():)
 

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Heat treatment

the problem with heat treatment before 1918 was that technicians used human eyeballs to gauge temperature by color. In experienced hands, it worked OK, in inexperienced hands it could over-harden parts and make them brittle.
The raw steel was fine. Perhaps not quite up to modern standards, but if treated correctly would suffice.
By 1918, most commercial arms makers were using more modern process controls that measured temperature in other ways than by eyeball.

The vast majority turned out adequate to handle ammo of pressures typical in the first half of the 20'th century, 03's had reputation of being able to handle M1 ball with higher pressure than M2 ball.
BUT
A small percentage were over-hardened and brittle.

To reduce risk, consider firing only low-pressure loads like low velocity cast-lead-bullet loads -- which work fine on targets

Hello

A friend of mine bought for 500 euros a 1903 Springfield

Your opinion about rifle / brittle reciever / rear sight aperture (larger than seen on other 1903s) ?

moblotaire from France
 

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I have a low number receiver that has been re-barreled. When I bought it, it had been drilled and tapped for scope mounts, so I surmised from that the metal was not brittle. (Yea or nae?) Anyhow, I only shoot M2 all through it, and it shows no signs of fatigue.
 

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I have a low number receiver that has been re-barreled. When I bought it, it had been drilled and tapped for scope mounts, so I surmised from that the metal was not brittle. (Yea or nae?) Anyhow, I only shoot M2 all through it, and it shows no signs of fatigue.
The problem with brittle metal is that it doesn't stretch under load to give you a sign something is happening. It is either complete or it is broken.
I seem to recall that inspection under a microscope can indicate if there is a problem with an over hardened receiver.
 

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The problem with brittle metal is that it doesn't stretch under load to give you a sign something is happening. It is either complete or it is broken.
I seem to recall that inspection under a microscope can indicate if there is a problem with an over hardened receiver.
Brittle metal cracks, properly tempered metal may still crack, but it will flex and return to its original shape significantly more before it cracks.

Sent from my E6782 using Tapatalk
 

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Does anyone have any actual information about early 1903s having catastrophic receiver and bolt failures? The only thing I have read, or heard about, is the Ordinance Department trying to create a catastrophic failure, and a drunk idiot in Michigan (no surprise) causing a failure because he plugged the barrel.
I would assume, with all of the people out there who will send a round down range with anything that shoots, we would have plenty of documented stories of actual "real world" failures of early 1903 bolts and receivers.
 

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I like this article, http://m1903.com/03rcvrfail/

You can read and make your own decision, there are a lot of rifles out there, no need in my opinion to shoot a low numbered receiver if you don't have to, but a lot of people like disproving what they feel is a myth or over conservative recommendation, that's their choice. As an aside, I've had a rifle come apart (not related 1903's or to any of this discussion) and I'll tell you the sudden release of high pressure gas next to my face was like a hand grenade and is something I don't wish on anyone and something I don't wish to repeat so I tend to try to minimize chances of that happening.

Frank
 

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Does anyone have any actual information about early 1903s having catastrophic receiver and bolt failures? The only thing I have read, or heard about, is the Ordinance Department trying to create a catastrophic failure, and a drunk idiot in Michigan (no surprise) causing a failure because he plugged the barrel.
I would assume, with all of the people out there who will send a round down range with anything that shoots, we would have plenty of documented stories of actual "real world" failures of early 1903 bolts and receivers.
Read the CMP Warning. (read between the lines too) I have not read of any failure, or seen reference of any, but better safe than sorry.
Of utmost importance - early bolts are not to be trusted. Period.
Early receivers are suspect ( but I tend to agree, I think GEW88's would be more subject to failure than a 1903, based on shear mass of the receiver and heat treat technology/methods.)

The weakest part of the action is the bolt lugs on the 1903. If I had a low # 1903 with a replacement bolt, I wouldn't be too concerned about failure, but I'm and engineer, and understand the forces and strengths and possible failure modes. I would not, however EVER shoot a low # Bolt.
 

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Does anyone have any actual information about early 1903s having catastrophic receiver and bolt failures? The only thing I have read, or heard about, is the Ordinance Department trying to create a catastrophic failure, and a drunk idiot in Michigan (no surprise) causing a failure because he plugged the barrel.
I would assume, with all of the people out there who will send a round down range with anything that shoots, we would have plenty of documented stories of actual "real world" failures of early 1903 bolts and receivers.
This is covered in great detail in Brophy's book.

There is a minority opinion out there that MOST of the receivers that were actually faulty and were going to fail from being improperly treated have probably already failed. If you look at the data the Ordnance department had (it is in Brophy's book), there were a LOT of failures within the first couple of years after the individual faulty receivers were produced, and relatively few failed happened after longer service.

Add to that information the fact that the Free French forces in WWII were issued a lot of the low numbered rifles, and I have heard of no reports of them having a failure problem.

Even if this WERE true, prudence dictates that you should still consider ALL low-numbered rifles as failure-prone.

Oh, and the Euro exchange rate today was just a tad below $1.10 per Euro. That 500 Euro rifle cost the equivalent of about $550 U.S.

About the rear sight. The aperture on the usual 1903 rear sight was quite tiny, and personally I find them pretty hard to use other than when shooting off a bench (where they are GREAT!). The Marine Corps used rear sight leaf with a larger aperture and the one pictured just might be one of those. It also may have been drilled out by a previous owner to make it easier to use.
 
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