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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Newbie here -

This was my grandfather's rifle in WWII. Smith Corona 1903A3, S/N 3600000 series, May 1943 production run.
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It's got an interesting sight on it that I haven't seen elsewhere, but I don't know anything much about the 1903A3 really.

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At first I thought it was missing an upper band because the exposed white didn't look right, but I'm not sure.
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Bolt action is smooth as butter. Thing hasn't been fired in decades and just needed a basic cleaning and some grease.

But I'd like to get it more serviceable. Upper band is kind of loose and the screw looks dubious... will probably replace it. Will order a sling, but that's no big deal. I've never refurbished an old rifle. Given the pictures, what more would you all do?
 

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The rear sight has been replaced with an after-market sporting peep sight. The original rear sight on the 1903A3 was also a peep sight, but it mounted into a dovetail slot on the rear of the receiver bridge. I cannot tell by the photos, but I'm guessing that the dove tail base was milled off.

I cannot see the maker's mark on that rear sight. I'm guessing that it is a Lyman rear sight. Those were mounted by drilling and tapping two holes into the right side of the receiver. These sights were a popular sight for hunting rifles in the 50s and 60s.

The "white" on the nose of the stock looks to be a filler. Overall, the stock appears to be a refinished "C" stock. Looks like a 'pistol grip cap' was also added. If you wanted to return the rifle to 100% original condition - as long as the rear sight dovetail is still there - it would be a matter of filling in the drilled holes in the receiver (a good gunsmith with good welding skill can do that), maybe a reparkerizing finish and refinishing or replacing the stock. "C" stocks are pretty expensive these days, and if were mine I'd just lightly sand off the gloss finish and filler, re-stain with a reddish walnut stain and give it a linseed oil finish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The rear sight has been replaced with an after-market sporting peep sight. The original rear sight on the 1903A3 was also a peep sight, but it mounted into a dovetail slot on the rear of the receiver bridge. I cannot tell by the photos, but I'm guessing that the dove tail base was milled off.

I cannot see the maker's mark on that rear sight. I'm guessing that it is a Lyman rear sight. Those were mounted by drilling and tapping two holes into the right side of the receiver. These sights were a popular sight for hunting rifles in the 50s and 60s.

The "white" on the nose of the stock looks to be a filler. Overall, the stock appears to be a refinished "C" stock. Looks like a 'pistol grip cap' was also added. If you wanted to return the rifle to 100% original condition - as long as the rear sight dovetail is still there - it would be a matter of filling in the drilled holes in the receiver (a good gunsmith with good welding skill can do that), maybe a reparkerizing finish and refinishing or replacing the stock. "C" stocks are pretty expensive these days, and if were mine I'd just lightly sand off the gloss finish and filler, re-stain with a reddish walnut stain and give it a linseed oil finish.
Wow, a lot more data than I expected to get. Thanks. I cleaned off the sight this afternoon and yep, it's a Lyman.

I'm not a historical purist in this case. I plan to shoot this rifle and will just learn how to zero it in using the sight that's on it. Though I will probably refinish the stock like you suggest and replace the bands. Thanks again
 

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That Lyman sight is 10 times what was originally on it BUT, the original was a battle sight. The Lyman should be capable of fine target work.
 

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Wow, a lot more data than I expected to get. Thanks. I cleaned off the sight this afternoon and yep, it's a Lyman.

I'm not a historical purist in this case. I plan to shoot this rifle and will just learn how to zero it in using the sight that's on it. Though I will probably refinish the stock like you suggest and replace the bands. Thanks again
The bands look pretty good to me - from what I see. The 03A3s were made with two different styles of rifling in the barrels: some had a 4 groove barrel and others had a 2 groove barrel. Those Lyman peep sights are great. The battle sights on the 03A3s were pretty good, too, when compared with the Buffington sights used on the 1903s. Much easier to use.

For target work, one of the web slings might work for you. Those were issued later for the M1 Garnds as well as the 03A3 rifles. They are (IMHO) faster to adjust for target shooting. We used those even as late as the M14s. They are faster and much easier to set up for support than the leather slings. Another handy aid in target shooting are the front sight hoods. There are 2 styles of those - the standard (Army) hood and the slightly larger USMC hoods. They help to frame your target picture, reduce glare on your front sight and also protect the front sight blade from getting bent. They just snap on.

You don't have to worry about ammo for your rifle. These will handle any commercial .30-06 ammo sold. I've always found that they shoot best with 150 to 180 grain bullets.
 

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One of my regrets is trading a 1903-A3 Remington, 2 groove. I worked up a 170 gr. cast bullet load and with the battle sights, hitting a white, 5 gallon bucket against a field of alfalfa at 500 yards was boringly consistent. As Jim said, the original sights were pretty good.
 

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I understand about liking the sights on it . Have a Springfield Krag that had a old Redfield peep site put on it sometime or another . First had planned to find and put original sights back on it but after I shot it a few times fell in love with the sights . When you say it was your grandfather's rifle during WW2 do you mean he carried one like it or did he bring it home with him by chance .
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I don't see any way he could have brought it home.
Well he was too young to be there in the first place… things weren’t quite as micromanaged as they are nowadays 🙄

I understand about liking the sights on it . Have a Springfield Krag that had a old Redfield peep site put on it sometime or another . First had planned to find and put original sights back on it but after I shot it a few times fell in love with the sights . When you say it was your grandfather's rifle during WW2 do you mean he carried one like it or did he bring it home with him by chance .
He’s passed on so I can’t be sure, but it’s a May 1943 run Smith Corona, and was given me by dad as Grandad’s rifle in the war; that’s all I’ve got to go on. It was a sorta fluid time so really nothing would surprise me.
 

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Gotcha (y) .. I grew up with and around many WW2 vets and some had 1911s they had managed to sneak home . Different time then . Taking a axis weapon home was no big deal but getting caught with a issued one was a no no . A uncle tried to bring home his Garand and got caught . They just gave him a chewing out . He said "well dang toted that thing around for 2 years and felt I had squatter rights with it " !!!!
 

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That's ok . My daughter was still in high school and her current boyfriend was over and me being a history/gun nerd said something about how different plants started making stuff for war effort in WW2 and said something about Smith Corona and he said "the beer company started making rifles WOW !" . Told my daughter she needed to dump this moron .
 

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Not a US made gun, but I have a 1918 Webley MK VI that my 84 year old neighbor's father brought back after WW2 in his duffel. He had no information on how his father acquired the revolver. His father served at the end of WW1 and again in WW2. The story is the Webley saw service starting mid 1918 in WW1 ( the war ended November 1918) and all of WW2. The gun is stamped with a "Broad-head" arrow indicating it was issued the the British Army but does not have the opposing "Broad-head" indicating it was released from service. My neighbor is not a gun guy and ask me if I wanted it. I bought the Webley for a fair price to him and myself but wish "Sir Webley" (my name for it) could talk! I since have reloaded to get acceptable pressures and have shot 100 rounds though it with both 45 Autorim and 45ACP brass using moon clips (Sir Webley has a shaved cylinder). 255 grain Keith SWC at 25 yards are very accurate in this 104 year old revolver.
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I repaired and refinished the exterior box that it came to me in using a walnut stain leaving the original strap marks to show.
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Bring home a service weapon was not all that uncommon in a day before computerized everything and officials frightened by the word “ terrorist”. I have a vet bring back from the Pacific Rockola Carbine and a 1911 carried by an acquaintance in WWII and Korea.

They really did not care at all about it, today we label it as "shrinkage". But not many cared about anything unless it violated the 1934 deal. I seem to remember reading a story about a solider that got in hot water after "acquiring" a case of BAR's. The same thing went into Korea, but by Vietnam they tried to put the kabash on the practice.
 
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