Posted: 6/9/2002 8:15:54 PM EDT
Are they safe to shoot? Does anyone know how many actually did blow up? Is the serial number range of the defective ones 80,000 or 800,000 and below? I have one with a serial number of 482,xxx The barrel has been replaced with a 7-44 and the bolt looks newer than the rest of the rifle. Other than that it appears to be correct for an early model 1903. It would seem to me that a rifle that was used enough to require a replacement barrel and bolt has been shot enough to prove that it is safe. I want to shoot this rifle, what are your opinions? The markings on the stock are as follows... left side above the trigger: J.F.C., at the top of the stock near the buttplate: C.B. Bishop, on the bottom of the stock just behind the trigger guard is a circle with a design I can't quite make out, it could be PB. Are these markings correct for this rifle?
Up until serial no. 800,000 the recievers of theM1903 were case hardened, and occasionally the case hardening was allowed to penetrate too far into the steel, leaving the reciever brittle and subject to breaking or cracking. At serial 800,000 the heat treatment was changed and the problem eliminated. Later the type of steel used was changed to a nickel steel alloy, and those (I think it was about serial no. 1,200,000) are considered the strongest M1903's. During WW2 some of the old M1903's under 800,000 were pulled out of storage, rebarrelled, and the bolts were replaced with later nickel steel pieces. It sounds like you've got one of those units.
Now this is just my opinion, and I've not seen your weapon, but my hunch is that, if the reciever hasn't cracked by now, it ain't going to. If you're willing to have the reciever checked for internal cracks, and it shows up OK, and you stick with factory loaded '06 ammo, you're probably going to be OK.
Check with metal shop about magnafluxing or x-raying the reciever.
For the record, the bulk of the M1903 's carried by our troops in WW1 were pre 800,000 guns, so they're not time bombs; but that reciever is over 80 years old, and until you can determine that it doesn't have any cracks, internal or external, you can't be 100% sure about it.
I would ask, who made the reciever..Springfield Armory, or Rock Island Armory?(The fact that it has been rebarrelled means little, as this could have been done when in civillian hands..)
"Hatcher's Notebook" has a considerable wealth of information on this subject, and you might benefit from buying, or borrowing a copy of it..
"Recievers manufactured by Springfield Armory with recievers below 800,000 are known to be weak. the use of a rifle with such a reciever is dangerous if the pressures are above normal, or the headspace is excessive"
Statement by Springfield Armory, on this subject, dated 23 June, 1926..