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What to look for in buying an 03/a3.

1911 Views 11 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  TLynn
First - my humble apologies to Six - I didn't mean to step on your original post, but I got so excited about learning all kinds of new, "good stuff", I got a little crazy. I hate it when I do that 8O 8O 8O

Here is my first posting about an 03 I found on consignment in a local gun shop.

duckbuck said:
I don't have all the particulars on the rifle yet, TLynn. Got a friend that owns a gun store and he showed me the rifle (got it out of his safe) because he knew I was interested in buying my first one.

It's supposed to be an '03 Springfield but the numbers don't all match up so it's probably a rebuild.

Had a good, clean bore but nobody had measured it for erosion.

The bolt was clean and bolt face was not gas checked. Didn't see any unusual wear around the locking lugs.

Action of the bolt was very smooooooth.

The stock set was pretty dinged up and the exterior metal showed quite a bit of wear, but didn't see any rust.

The owner wasn't available, so I couldn't get any history on it.

The shop closed early today so I won't get a chance to look it over until Tuesday. I'll go in after work and if it's still there, I'll get all the info I can - maybe he'll let me take a pic or two.

Sorry that I'm not able to be more specific - didn't know what to look for.
And TLynn's response -

TLynn said:
That's pretty darn good info there.

Most of the 03's are not matching anymore. Partly because many were used in WWII and well let's face it things just get mixed up when they go in for an arsenal rebuild or field repair.

Sounds to me like a fairly nice gun. You need to see what the Serial Number is on the receiver (as I mentioned above many people think that the low receiver number on an 03 could cause problems). Most of those were produced before 1912 or 1913 I believe.

Be warned that if you go looking for a replacement stock it will not be cheap. Most go on places like gunbroker and such when you do see them for a fair amount.

I have one and by the time it was all said and done must of spent close to $100 (but that included some other parts). I've yet to redo the 03 Mk I (it's in a sporter stock) and may not because of some of what is involved.
Thanks for all the good info and help, TLynn. I appreciate ya. :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

I'll get the goods on the rifle, including the price, and report back.

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duckbuck said:
First - my humble apologies to Six
As Crocidile Dundee would say ... "No Worries Mate" ... :wink:

I somehow didn't think SixT would mind.

Here's some pictures (a link) of a couple of 03's and a 03A3 (sad to say I don't have the 03A3 anymore but it went to a good home).

Drop Dead Gorgeous pics - TLynn. You've got me salivating furiously. :D :D :D

The rifle I looked at had the ladder rear sight on it just like those photos.

Anyway, thanks again for posting the great pics.

There are markings on various parts of the rifle. If you have a chance jot down the markings and post them. Look for.

Barrel date and serial number on the receiver.

Any number or letter on the bolt. Also does the bolt have a straight or swept bolt handle and is the bolt body smooth or undercut.

Those are the basics to start with. There isn't enough room here to go into all of the intricate details about each part.

Like the M1 Garand these rifles can be fun hunting for the parts to make the rifle correct.

If you can access a copy of Harrisons book and Brophy's book you should be able to determine exactly what you have. Don't expect to find a correct rifle.


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Thanks Ox - printed off the good stuff and will be on the way to the gun store tomorrow.

duckbuck - I've got Brophys book so if you get the markings I'll do my best to help you determine exactly what you got.
Hey there TLynn - I appreciate the offer. I'll try to get all the particulars I can and let you know what I find out. I'll post what I can tomorrow evening.

Thanks Again, duckbuck
Hi there folks -

Boy, am I bummed - The Springfield is gone!!!:cry: :cry: :cry:

But - there were two 1903-A3s that caught my eye. I really wanted a Springfield 03 but I must admit, I slobbered all over the stocks of these two. :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

Would appreciate some advice though.

1. Remington 03-A3, serial #407XXXX. This rifle has all Remington parts, including the stock (Checked both Poyers and Brophy to match things up. Had the "R" marks on all the bands, barrel (mfg 9-43), Bolt had the proper markings on the bolt, extractor, etc. (R, R42, and [9] where the books indicated they should be. The barrel is a 2-groove barrel and has a clean, bright bore with lots of land area left. Didn't have guages so I couldn't check the erosion but did notice some wear (not damage) on the crown.

Parkerizing on the barrel showed some wear but was unmarked except at the muzzle and there was discoloration of the parkerizing on the receiver, but no pitting. The bolt face was clean - you could tell it had been fired quite a bit, but there was no evidence of pitting or rust anywhere on the rifle. Had the right type and size of "checkering" (is that the right word?) on the butt plate. Didn't have the cleaning kit with it.

Nice, uncracked stock with a some dings and marks. We inspected 10-12 stocks he had in the back room and it appeared that the stock on the rifle, while not the original, appeared to still have the factory finish on it and had not been sanded and refinished. We put it side-by-side with other stocks that had been "re-coated" and 2 that had been sanded and refinished - the difference was obvious.

Was really disappointed in the lack of inspectors cartouches and exterior stamps. Stock was marked with a 3 on the grip behind the trigger guard and the "flaming bomb" ordinance mark on the very front of the forend of the stock. The was a partial stamp in the stock channel ( "V") and another stamp (?-partially obscured and and " I") in the area between the receiver and mag box. We found references in the books to all of these marks but the number 3 on the grip, as being Remington markings.

We took the stock off and examined the reciever, bolt, barrel and stock thoroughly - "R" marks everywhere on the bolt components, including the extractor (underneath side) along with hardness punch marks receiver and bolt.

The shop owner is a friend of mine and we had the whole crew of regulars pouring over the books and rifle checking things out. We (collectively) decided that the stock was probably a Remington field replacement and not an armory refit.

The bolt and safety were completely functional and the bolt action was very smooth.

Is this rifle worth owning as a collector/shooter for less than $600?

#2. This is another one of his "Safe Queens" and is a completely original Smith-Corona 03-A3, Serial #473XXXX with a 4 groove barrel and almost unblemished green parkerizing on all the metal except the bands.

Just like the Remington, we examined all the stock and metal markings and cartouches we could see without taking the rifle down and compared them with the books. Lacking any evidence to the contrary, I am convinced that this rifle is also the genuine article. I couldn't find a single part or component on it that didn't have the appropriate S-C markings or stamps. I forgot to write down the mfg. date of the rifle - :oops: :oops: :oops:

The metal finish, bore and stock on the S-C were much nicer than the Remington, but even at that, the Remington was in really good condition.

He wants $700 for the S-C. Is that a good price?

Should I wait and try for an original Springfield 1903?

Should I grab up the Remington or the S-C (can't afford both right now)?

What do you think? :?: :?: :?:

Sorry for the length of this post - but TLynn, you told me to get "the goods" and I aims to please.


ps - even if they don't turn out to be good investments, we all had a great time "researching" and I learned a bunch. I love this stuff!!!:mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
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Ouch - though I know these things are pricey.

Put it this way - I traded my original Remington 03A3 (and it was 100% Remington) which had just one scratch on the parkerizing (well the bolt obviously had a bit more), for a rearsenaled Colt Systema - unshot, a Turk mauser (best he had out of his collection and I like Turks too), and a Yugo 24/47 rearsenaled with all the trimmings in excellent condition.

He got a good deal - I could of sold the rifle for minimally $600+ but I wanted the 45 really bad.

Truth - the Smith Corona of the two is worth the most money and $700 while for me a trifle high is a realistic price nowadays if it's in that good of a condition. The Remington for $600 ain't bad either. I was just extremely lucky as I didn't pay more than $200 on any of the ones I bought (oh wait I traded for all 3 - duh).

You did good and while you are waiting for a Springfield 1903 - you might as well collect the 03A3's too!
Thanks for the info and support, TLynn - I think I'll mosey on down that way tomorrow and see if one of them will follow me home.

I'll take some pics when I get it all spiffy.

Don't you just love it when a plan comes together???? :mrgreen:

Sure do love those type of plans duckbuck. If I had the money heck I'd be trying for another 03A3.

In time you'll find an 03 that you like and you'll take that home as well. You'll find both rifles a delight to shoot.
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