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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just picked up this Springfield rifle yesterday but my knowledge about them is very limited. There's very few markings on this one except for the Serial #, a stamp on the stock, and an "H" on where the bayonet mounts. Is there anyone on here who can help be decipher what all these markings mean and maybe give an indication on how much this rifle may be worth?
 

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You have a low-numbered receiver, it is not considered safe to shoot. Springfield serial numbers below 800,000 and Rock Island Armory SN below 286,506 did not use double-heat treatment of the receivers, and many failed. There is an interesting backstory to this fact. Manufacturing date is 1917. Your rifle looks to be in very good condition, but I am not an expert, especially on value. I bought one about 4 months ago for $450, but it was above 800,000 SN range. Snapped it up, it was tagged at $1000, all I did was ask what he would take for it. Look at the barrel more closely, it should have the flaming bomb ordinance mark, along with a year date. That would be the barrel manufacturing date, if it is 1917(expressed as x-17, x being a number indicating month, 17 being year), you may have a real collectors piece, if all the rest of the parts prove to be all correct for date of manufacture and Springfield manufacture, it is possible (but unlikely) that it is in original configuration, as in not arsenal refinished. In that case, it could be worth several thousand dollars, shootable or not. If you look at the muzzle closely, a mark similar to an asterisk indicates a star gauged barrel, which were usually installed in National Match guns, and will command higher values. Better and more pictures would help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
This one does not have the flaming ordinance, upon taking the gun apart the only additional markings I can find are small "R"'s all over the barrel at random places. The barrel itself is very rough I dont know how in the world they allowed this gun to leave the factory.
 

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Again, I am no expert but by my understanding the R marks indicate that those parts were manufactured by Remington, probably near the beginning of WWII. The US restarted production of the 1903 as a stop gap measure to produce battle rifles and contracted out their manufacture to several US commercial firearm companies. The Springfield armory was too busy making the M1 Garand rifle and did not have the capacity to manufacture both. The lack of ordnance stamp on the barrel would seem to mean that it is a commercial aftermarket barrel, they are/were available from the CMP. The stock lacks the finger grooves that the original 1903's came with. I can't make out any letter stamps next to the crossed cannon cartouche on the stock, it has probably been sanded off. My assumption would be that it has been either through an arsenal rebuild or that it was assembled out of surplus parts. Not a prime collector piece, but it does have some value.

Take the following with a grain of salt. I have read articles that have contended that most of the poorly heat treated, below 800,000 SN 1903 receivers are already gone. The assumption is that if they were flawed, they have already failed, so the ones that are left should be okay. I would not shoot one, but it's your gun and your eyes and your life. Do your own research. The story behind the bad receivers is interesting. After forging the receivers they required heat treatment. This requires them to be heated in a furnace to a critical temperature. This was a common practice at the time (and still is) to relieve stresses in the metal and to reduce brittleness. Springfield had highly experienced furnace operators who could determine the temperature of the metal by it's coloration, they did not use pyrometers. As the US prepared for WWI, 1903 production was ramped up, and it appears that furnace operators with less experience began allowing poorly heat treated receivers to go into production. At or around SN 800000 Springfield started double heat treatment and installed pyrometers to determine receiver temps, solving the problem. My interpretation of this information is that firing a pre-800,000 SN Springfield '03 is a risk determined by the experience of a furnace operator in 1917. It's a crapshoot, and I am not willing to risk it.
 

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Great write-up, Pawpa40!

As far as this particular rifle, it looks like an arsenal refurbish made at the start of WW2. Many (most) of the early WW1 vintage 1903s were pulled from storage and re-issued when the United States entered the war. Nearly all had the stocks (the early finger-groove stocks) replaced with the non-finger groove wood because the older stocks were thought to be weak with age and not fit for combat use and were replaced with new wood.

As Pawpa4040 said, Remington assumed production of the 1903s because Springfield had switched over to M1 Rifle production, and the Marine Corps still used the 1903 rifles as the primary battle rifle at that time. That is why you find Remington parts on that Springfield 1903.

Low numbered 1903s are not considered safe to shoot because of the heat treatment process. I have read numerous articles on the subject, and that is an interesting story unto itself. There were a number of personnel injured from these 'blow-ups'. I even read of speculation that some of the accidents were possibly caused my mixing of ammunition from captured German 8mm ammunition - and somehow (?) this ammunition ended up being fired in the 1903s - causing the blow ups. Again - that was speculation from early investigations.

Just as to how and why captured German ammunition would have been stored in a U.S. facility and somehow mixed with regular issue ammunition stock is curious. From my own experience, Ordinance is pretty careful about things like that... Makes me doubt the story - but just reporting what I have read about it.

As far as the 'barrel being very rough' - I am not clear: Is the exterior finish rough or is the the interior rough? I'd have to see it myself, but don't forget that these rifles were parkerized and that gives what you'd see as a 'rough finish'. You have an interesting and collectible piece of history. If it were mine I wouldn't do a thing to it. I wouldn't use it for a shooter, but I'd keep it cleaned, oiled and preserved.
 

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You could always use the “Polish Headpace Test” I used to use on all my “dropped in the rubble once or twice” condition Mosin Nagant I used to buy for $30....😎

It involves an old tire, a few bungee cords and a LONG string....😉

Of course the 03 might still blow the NEXT shot, but for a rimmed cartridge like my x54 that headspaces on the rim, when I had 5 fired cartridges I could look at with my jewelers loupe looking for any signs of pressure or case failure (I never found ANY in any of the ratty MNs btw...) I then felt a lot better putting it to my shoulder and my face on the stock...😎
 

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You could always use the “Polish Headpace Test” I used to use on all my “dropped in the rubble once or twice” condition Mosin Nagant I used to buy for $30....😎

It involves an old tire, a few bungee cords and a LONG string....😉
Or do like I do, use my brother in law. 😀
 

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Or do like I do, use my brother in law. 😀
I dunno, that might not prove anything.

I’ve had a couple of bro-in-laws on my wife’s side of the family that were fully capable of blowing themselves up with a perfectly functioning firearm.

In fact I own a shotgun from one of them that he gave me after I fixed another one of his that “jammed” (that just badly needed to be cleaned and all the action screws tightened!) that he had boogered up trying to fix with a pipe wrench😳😉
 
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