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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have the chance to get a really nice super clean Mod.1903 RIA. It has a low Ser.No.that falls into the range of receivers with heat treat issues. The rifle was rebarreled in '42 so apparently the rifle was shot enough to wear out its original barrel.Why else would it have been rebarreled? If i do purchase the rifle i would like to shoot it occasionally, probably with mild hand loads. I have always heard that low Ser. No. '03's should not be fired but with this one i am not sure because of it being rebarreled. The condition and price of the rifle is very hard to pass up, What to do? Some advice from some '03 experts would be very appreciated. Thanks, PA223
 

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If it had to have the barrel replaced due to it being shot out, I'd say there's not a problem with the heat treatment of that receiver. There was a lengthy study done by a doctor (sorry, I don't recall his name) that traced the "faulty receivers" to a bad batch of super-soft brass. In any case, those 1903's were used by Marines on Guadalcanal, to good effect. My father knows the details of this study; I'll post details when I get them. Is this a new GI barrel?

Kevin
 

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The original problem related to poor heat treatment of the recievers. This was exacerbated by the poor quality control during the production of some WWI ammunition which was either overloaded or for which the cases were brittle or became brittle in the forming process. Alot of low numbered rifles were used for a long time with no problems as they weren't all improperly treated. The problem is there is no way to now which ones were and which ones weren't so you shoot at your own risk.
 

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Barrel could have been replaced for a number of reasons,
wear, damage, etc
There are plenty of safe 1903s available, why take a chance?
 

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From a safety standpoint, low numbered "03's should not be fired. Many were destroyed because of improper heat treatment, but when we got into WW2, rifles were desperately needed, so many early "03's were rebuilt. A person would think that time and use would weed out any faulty receivers, but you are just one shot away from a potential mishap/disaster. There is really no way to determine if a receiver is bad or not without destroying it.
A good low numbered receiver still is not as strong as the later ones with proper heat treatment. If you want a shooter, buy a high numbered '03 or 03-A3. Low numbered receivers are not even allowed on the firing line at Camp Perry, so what does that tell you?
What is the asking price of this rifle? I might be interested in adding it to my small '03 collection.
 

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From a safety standpoint, low numbered "03's should not be fired. Many were destroyed because of improper heat treatment, but when we got into WW2, rifles were desperately needed, so many early "03's were rebuilt. A person would think that time and use would weed out any faulty receivers, but you are just one shot away from a potential mishap/disaster. There is really no way to determine if a receiver is bad or not without destroying it.
A good low numbered receiver still is not as strong as the later ones with proper heat treatment. If you want a shooter, buy a high numbered '03 or 03-A3. Low numbered receivers are not even allowed on the firing line at Camp Perry, so what does that tell you?
What is the asking price of this rifle? I might be interested in adding it to my small '03 collection.
I agree!

Instead of weeding out bad receivers all those years of use might have just weakened the receiver more, getting it closer to the day that it blows up in someones face.
 

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"Would it be practical to re-heat treat the low # receivers?"

What will it cost (would it be worth it) and what would be the liability should one day you decide to sell the rifle and the next owner meets with an accident?

Why not just get the high number?

But then.......did you see it?

"I am aware of one receiver failure of a high number receiver about 1987-88 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The rifle was made by Springfield Armory and the serial number was over 1,000,000. The ammunition was said to World War II military ball ammunition. A piece of the receiver was blown off and there was evidence of crystallization along the fracture line. The stock and magazine were wrecked. The shooter sustained minor injuries, and sued the seller. The seller of the rifle found evidence the rifle had been fired with the bore full of grease. The seller's insurance company settled out of court. "

Quote taken from the link provided by Long Shot (above). *Note that I added the underline........high numbered receivers were double heat treated.

Do you want to take the risk?

Remember: Anyone can sue. Win or lose......you're paying to defend yourself. The risk goes up if you have a low numbered receiver (recognized "problem").

Just my .02.

Aloha, Mark
 

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Greetings,

Would it be practical to re-heat treat the low # receivers?

Regards, Jim
The Ordinance Dept. way back in the days did consider reheat treating the low numbered receivers. However, the bad ones were over heated during the initial production, and had the carbon burned out of them. No amount of reheat treatment would fix that.

As for the above post, any receiver or bolt can fail, in any firearm. Quite a few early M14 bolts failed too, due to incorrect steels and heat treatment.
 

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I'm stepping out of my comfort zone for some things here, so please understand that.

I have heard there are a very few places one can get a Mauser action re-heat treated and at least one of the places has done low number Springfields. I do not know the names and addresses of the places because I do little to no custom bolt action rifle work that would call for re-heat treatment of the receivers. The next time we teach a class at the Colorado School of Trades, I'll ask them about it.

I know that Ron Smith of Smith Enterprise has done re-heat treatment of some civilian M14 receivers though I can't remember off the top of my head what the treatment is called. The treatment wasn't cheap, but it was lower than the cost of a new receiver. I don't know if that treatment could be done on a low numbered 03 receiver, though.

Personally, I would NOT shoot a low number 03 receiver unless the receiver had been re-heat treated. I don't care how low a percentage the failure rate is. If I had a low number 03 that was not re-heat treated, I would keep it as a collector item only - even if it had been rebarreled during WWII.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for all the feedback. I am going to pass on this rifleGI4, its just not worth the risk of a KABOOM!dance2
 
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