Springfield 03-A3 never fired?

Discussion in 'Technical Questions & Information' started by mcredimus, Oct 7, 2012.

  1. mcredimus

    mcredimus New Member

    Oct 2, 2012
    I acquired a Springfield 03-A3, and took it with me to visit a gunsmith friend of mine. I take care of all my own guns and just wanted him to walk me through disassembling, cleaning, and reassembly, and check the head-space for me before I fired the gun. When I got there his face lit up because of the condition of the rifle. I have done some research on this rifle and its markings, the stamps and such, and thought I knew a few things about these rifles. However he said one thing that puzzled me. He cant see any sign that this rifle has ever been fired. From what I found out about the stamps and the armory's that this gun passed through I thought the rifle would have been fired several times before it passed inspection. Is it at all possible that this rifle has never been fired? I do not see how this could be possible with a military weapon.

    The rifle markings are,
    RA, the bomb, and 3-43 on the top of the barrel
    a P on the bottom
    3 GM-K stamped on left side above trigger
    A very faint FJA on left side above trigger
    a single Circle P on bottom behind trigger
    and a sires of 4 small lettered circles and two lettered triangles ( cant make out what is inside ) on bottom in front of...magazine plate?
  2. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA
    Never fired? I highly doubt that!

    It was a military rifle supplied to the government. The military had specs that had to be met before any gun was accepted. I would think that would include a firing test for accuracy minimums. It might have only been a few shots like maybe a thee shot group (??).

    I also doubt that a visual inspection would reveal for sure that it was never fired. It might reveal that it was never fired extensively.

    But the proof might be as easy as cleaning the barrel. Use a copper solvent and if after several passes the patches ever comes out green then it was fired. Copper get into the metal during firing. It may not even be able to be seen with the naked eye but it may be there. The patch would come out with a green tint if the gun was ever fired with copper gilded bullets (standard Military ammo) and without the tint if never fired. There is nothing in the manufacturing process of barrels that would put copper into the barrel; only shooting does that. It is a crude test but an indicator none the less.

    Anyway that is my opinion and yours may vary.


  3. jack404

    jack404 Former Guest

    Jan 11, 2010
    i'll wager on LD's side

    every lee enfield ever made had to pass a firing test , from a vice like mount it had to hit a 4" group within the sights adjustment range and then do so at 600 yards witha 8" max allowed

    more than that it was tossed

    Springfield's i have the ordinance master manual if you'd like a copy and can read about it

    they had a indoor set up but just as accurate

    fail to meet tests sent the rifle back to be rebarreled

    i know they did so with the M14 too and i think that was the last US rifle ( main rifle SF and sniper stuff excempted ) to get a proof fire , but dont quote me on that part , but i remember a stink about the M-16s not being proof fired but came factory pretty good

    this is a Firing Proof its about 1/2" in Dia.

    Last edited: Oct 7, 2012
  4. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    Ive got an 03A3 in a C stock that I picked up like that. It was still in cosmo. Enjoy the rifle. The 03 springers are among the best ever IMO.
  5. Twicepop

    Twicepop Well-Known Member

    Jan 9, 2012
    NW Ohio
    Precision shooting had a story several years back about one particular Springfield 03A3 rifle that surfaced from someones private collection. I don't recall who the owner was now, but the serial number of the rifle said it was made in the late 1930s, and all indications were this rifle was determined to be unfired as well. The tests were conducted after someone had tried to chamber a 30-06 cartridge in the gun and the bolt lacked about 1/2 inch of closing each time it was tried. First a bore scope was put down the barrel and it determined that the rifle had never been fired as no traces of copper or carbon were detected in the bore or the lead. A chamber cast was done after that and all of the dimensions were that of a 308 and not a 30-06. No paper work to verify the authenticity of the gun could be found, but the serial number was correct for the time period, as well as having all the correct arsenal proof marks and inspectors stamps. It's not likely this could be one of these odd-ball rifles, but it's also not out of the realm of possibilities that a few unfired Springfield rifles are still out there somewhere as this one was determined to be.

    those who beat their guns into plowshares, will plow for those who didn't
  6. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

    Dec 6, 2009
    Many M1903A3 rifles were never fired beyond the single proof firing at the factory. U.S. rifles were not always function fired with a full magazine as German Mausers were (or were supposed to be).

    By the time the M1903A3 was well into production, there were plenty of M1 rifles for most needs and the later M1903A3 rifles went directly from factory to depot storage. Many of those were later sold through DCM; they were supposed to have been proved again before sale. They were cleaned after each proof load so they would show no signs of extensive firing, and are, in effect, brand new.

    Note that in recent years, rebuilt M1903A3 rifles have been sold. They have been refurbished, with new wood and new or repro parts, even new barrels, and a new Parkerizing job that looks nothing like the original. While the original sellers usually are scrupulous in telling the buyer that the gun is not original, some secondary sellers have not been as ethical and pass the rehabs off as unfired and unissued originals.

    FWIW, an M1903A3 made in the late thirties would indeed be a collectors' item, regardless of condition!

  7. mcredimus

    mcredimus New Member

    Oct 2, 2012
    The rifle came from a locker in my grandfathers old house. He passed about twenty years ago, and the family never emptied out his old house, they just used it as it was. It was no surprise, everyone knew about the rifles, but no one can ever remember him shooting them. He was an engineer in WWII so I was thinking this may have been his issued rifle until I started really looking at it. Even though he was never on the front line, (because of his age) it is in too good of shape to have been issued and have gone around the world. I looked at it with magnification last night and can find copper streaks going up the breech ramp, but no brass anywhere in the chamber or on the bolt. But the barrel does have the "P" on the underside of the end of the barrel.
  8. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    rest assured it been fired. they all have. theres no such thing as an unfired 03A3. What you have is a very good example of a near new 03A3.
  9. jack404

    jack404 Former Guest

    Jan 11, 2010
    the P is the proof mark for proof firing , cant get it any other way but that dont make it any less valuable .. as none of these things are "virgin" all have been proofed fired

    then many get put away into armouries then sat there getting a clean every couple years until disposed of

    and now you have a almost new rifle worth a good bit , enjoy!!
  10. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    Same thing I found here. Old codger came into the shop i was smithing for last year and sold an estate. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer and given 2 months so he was chippin away at his bucket list and needed the funds.

    Among the threasures he brought in was the remington arms 03A3 in a C stock. I snatched it up and put my name on it. All numbers on it match on everything, date codes all match 9/43, not ever arsenal refurbed. Still covered in cosmo. Only thing crap about it was the ol timer scribed his DL # in the side of the reciever.. Dangit.. But its faint in the greenish parkerizing that covers the entire rifle. He said he bought it from the DCM many years back shortly after he discovered the existence of the DCM. And kept it hoarded away in his gun vault for 50ish years. It is one of my favorite rifles. It isnt everyday you get the priveledge to snatch up a new original 03A3
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2012
  11. jack404

    jack404 Former Guest

    Jan 11, 2010
    in 63 the armoury here sold all the T series Lee Enfield snpiers 100% original many in the wooden box they had , folks bought em for $300 now they bring $7000 as new

    all have been proof fired and match fired and zeroed for the scope but otherwise brand new

    i'm selling a couple now
  12. mcredimus

    mcredimus New Member

    Oct 2, 2012
    I always thought my first "piece of history" gun would be an old Kentucky rifle, I never thought a 03-A3 would fall into my hands in this good of shape. I figured my second would be an old Garand. I currently use my Panther LR-308 for hunting, keep the Colt .45 next to my bed, carry a Kel-Tech .32, and keep the Mossberg in the truck. I absolutely love all the guns I have, and enjoy shooting them. The only question I have now is,

    to fire, or not to fire, the 03-A3?

    I do value your inputs.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 7, 2012
  13. jack404

    jack404 Former Guest

    Jan 11, 2010
    I ran 2 groups of 5 through a T model here and admit sold it as BNIB never issued armoury sale stock

    loved it ;)

    it was never issued


    very nice find , well done ,

    i'd risk running 10 rounds though it , for feeling ..

    heck if you want make it your main shooter , and why not , it's yours

    up to you

    i think history brought out and relived every now and again is a good thing

    but i shoot a 1916 made rifle in mil rifle comp's here
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2012
  14. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    Theres no reason not to enjoy that thing mcremidus. Go to the CMP website and order up some M2 ball and go shootn. Its hard to miss with such a well made piece of artillery.
  15. Gabob

    Gabob Well-Known Member

    Dec 5, 2005
    When you fire it keep the thumb alongside the stock instead of across the bridge. Otherwise the thumb will hit you under the nose.
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