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Discussion Starter #1
Just picked up a 1903a3 in great shape. Took it home, doesn't close on a go gauge. It would close if you force it, it is very close (resistance is met about half way turning the bolt handle). Chambering a round (hxp, ppu, and federal hunting rounds) you feel slight resistance closing the bolt. As soon as the locking lugs engage it is tight (finger pressure will close it, some rounds close easily, others are very tight) but will close on a live round. I've cleaned the hell out of the chamber. My question is, should I buy a finish reamer to pick up a few thousands of headspace or just shoot a few hundred rounds to loosen the thing up? Tight headspace shouldnt make this thing into a grenade right?
 

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Using a stripped bolt if it requires pressure to close the bolt on the gauge you are good to go. Even if it closes on the go gauge then the real test is the field gauge.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Using a stripped bolt if it requires pressure to close the bolt on the gauge you are good to go. Even if it closes on the go gauge then the real test is the field gauge.
Go gauge, not a no-go, I was measuring min chamber length. Bolt doesn't close on a no-go or a field gauge
 

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You may be further ahead by stripping the bolt, and "lapping" the lugs. Getting "more", or "even" contact with your front lugs would be better for accuracy.;)
 

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Extensive M1 Carbine and Rifle collections with current focus on standardized Army rifled arms
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I agree with cleaning the heck out of the chamber... a bit of rust or hard-dried preservative on the shoulder of the chamber will resist chambering quite a bit. But otherwise I don;t think you have a problem if it's an original barrel. Sounds like a pretty new condition rifle. It's common for bolts to close tightly.

But if you get good ammo into it.... don't ream the chamber. If it's a really newish rifle it'll loosen up a bit as phosphate is worked off the locking recesses. If you have a blued bolt you won't see much easing. If it has a commercial barrel on it all bets are off until you get it really gaged, but from what you described it should be OK.
 

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Sounds just right. As long as you arent going into battle with dirty ammo, would rather have a tight chamber than a loose one. Shoot it.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I agree with cleaning the heck out of the chamber... a bit of rust or hard-dried preservative on the shoulder of the chamber will resist chambering quite a bit. But otherwise I don;t think you have a problem if it's an original barrel. Sounds like a pretty new condition rifle. It's common for bolts to close tightly.

But if you get good ammo into it.... don't ream the chamber. If it's a really newish rifle it'll loosen up a bit as phosphate is worked off the locking recesses. If you have a blued bolt you won't see much easing. If it has a commercial barrel on it all bets are off until you get it really gaged, but from what you described it should be OK.
Barrel is a 43 smith corona, receiver is a 44 sc as far as I can tell it is the original bolt.
 

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Just picked up a 1903a3 in great shape. Took it home, doesn't close on a go gauge. It would close if you force it, it is very close (resistance is met about half way turning the bolt handle). Chambering a round (hxp, ppu, and federal hunting rounds) you feel slight resistance closing the bolt. As soon as the locking lugs engage it is tight (finger pressure will close it, some rounds close easily, others are very tight) but will close on a live round. I've cleaned the hell out of the chamber. My question is, should I buy a finish reamer to pick up a few thousands of headspace or just shoot a few hundred rounds to loosen the thing up? Tight headspace shouldnt make this thing into a grenade right?
Tight head space in itself should not create a "genade" there where some 1903/a3 clones/rebuilds that came with barrels that had a short throat and caused some issues, never heard of one doing major damage but where having High pressure signs .
Its nice to have a nice snug chamber. Most of my milsurp rifles are are right at field gauge for wear.
 

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when you replace the barrel with a new military one, you usually have to run a finish reamer in it. I use one that pulls threw and you just close the bolt on it and you have a match grade chamber. If it is good and clean, a military chamber is usually about a field grade on a 1903 or a M1, and that is a normal, so the barrel has probably been replaced.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
when you replace the barrel with a new military one, you usually have to run a finish reamer in it. I use one that pulls threw and you just close the bolt on it and you have a match grade chamber. If it is good and clean, a military chamber is usually about a field grade on a 1903 or a M1, and that is a normal, so the barrel has probably been replaced.
Problem is finding someone that has a pull through 30-06 reamer. No shops here in PA around me do any gunsmithing and I don't want to pay $190 for a reamer to do one job with it ha!
 

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You listed HXP in the original post. My 03-A3 does not like HXP and exhibits the symptoms you mention. After some research, I discovered that is a common problem.The generous chambers of the M1, for which the HXP was made, has no trouble with it. My 03-A3 shoots LC and commercial brass without a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
You listed HXP in the original post. My 03-A3 does not like HXP and exhibits the symptoms you mention. After some research, I discovered that is a common problem.The generous chambers of the M1, for which the HXP was made, has no trouble with it. My 03-A3 shoots LC and commercial brass without a problem.
Yes hxp along with ppu and federal hunting loads all chambered the same. Tight.
 

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The bottom line in this is that the rifle appears original and a little tightness isn't a problem. Fire a few rounds though and see if there are any pressure signs that suggest an overly tight throat that's clamping the neck and raising pressiures..

If not, you can fire it confidently. I have a number of 03s and A3s and several have a tightish chamber. Like factory new.
 

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I have 8 1903's from 1904 up through a Rock River 1903a4 replica and almost all of them close tight with most ammo, GI or commercial.
 
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