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February 2006 Battle Rifle - 1903 Springfield
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 Posted: Wed Feb 1st, 2006 08:32 PM
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The_Mountaineer



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Suffice it to say that this is probably my favorite battle rifle if I had one.  I just wish I owned one!

Borrowing largely from "Bolt Action Rifles the 4th edition" edited by Frank de Haas and Dr. Wayne Van Zwoll, I submit this summary of the old war horse.

In response to the 8 mm Mauser's success in the Spanish-American War of 1898, the United States started development of a new service cartridge and rifle.  The U.S. Springfield Armory in Springfield, Massachussetts was charged with the bulk of the work.  Originally, a 30-03 cartridge was developed but due to it's ballistic inferiority to the 8X57 Mauser, further development by Springfield resulted in the creation of the 30-06 Springfield, short for "Caliber 30 Model of 1906. 

The 1903 was largely featured after Mauser's model 93 and 98 actions.  In fact, the US had to fork over $200 K for infringements of patents!  I'll leave it up to the members of Handloader's Bench to discuss the specifics of particular models.

When one talks about using these war horses for shooting or sporterized rifle projects, there comes the issue of "low" or "high" serial number.  Springfield Armory and the Rock Island models didn't start double heat treating their rifles till around 1918.  Those Springfield rifles stamped with a serial number greater than 800,000 as well as those from Rock Island stamped with a serial number greater than 285,507 are double heat treated.  The result of double heat treating is stronger, safer actions unlike earlier models which were sometimes known to burst when fired.

For the collector, the editors choices are as such:

1.  Springfield Armory-made 03 national Match or the DCM Sporter version (very rare)
2.  Springfield Armory 03 w/ double heat treated steel
3.  Springfield Armory 03 w/ nickel steel
4.  Springfield Armory 03 Mark I
5.  Rock Island Arsenal 03 w/ double heat treated steel
6.  Rock Island Arsenal 03 w/ nickel steel
7.  Remington 1903
8.  Remington 1903A4
9.  Remington 1903A3
10.  Smith Corona 03A3

Compared to the Mauser, the author prefers the Springfield because it's easier to operate for fast repeat shots, easier bolt lift and closure, smoother feeding,

Paired with the 30-06, it is a prime target rifle.  It is also a fine hunting rifle if tuned to the hunter or if the hunter may be tuned to it's war-horse configuration.  Make no mistake, the 30-06 is THE cartridge for this rifle. As for the 30-06 cartridge itself?  Well, that's another topic!  One to watch for in the featured cartridge of the month.


 

 

 

 



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 Posted: Wed Feb 1st, 2006 09:08 PM
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Charley



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The 1903 Springfield family has a long and interesting history. After the Spanish American War, the US Army wanted Mauser type rifles in the worst way. The Krag rifle, which had been in service for less than 10 years was showing its age, at least concept wise, already.

The Ordnance Department wanted several features on the new rifle, some that still make excellent sense, and some that, in hindsight, seem kinda stupid today. Things they wanted included:

1. Full .30 caliber bullet, at a higher velocity than the Krag's 2000 FPS or so.

2. Charger loading, AKA clip loading. This was seen as a huge advantage of the Mauser rifles over the Krag

3. Magazine cut off. For 60 year old ordanance guys, whose careers began in the era of single shot rifle muskets, the idea of a magazine rifle was disquieting, to say the least. It was expected that fire discipline could not be taught to the average soldier, so a magazine cut off was included in the design. the rifle was used as a single shot most of the time, and the contents of the magazine was held for emergency use. I've read that cut offs were often highly polished on the "off" side, so NCOs could look down the firing line and see that doctrine was being followed.

4. Replaceable firing pin tip.  Firing pins were often suspect, particularly during the early years of corrsively primed cartridges. It was considered that the replaceable tip would save money over replacing the entire firing pin.

5. Some sort of knob or handle on the cocking piece. It was felt that a second strike capability was important in a battle rifle. Why this couldn't be done by raising the bolt handle was never answered. Anyway, the cocking piece on the 1903 rifle is very distinctive.

They wanted other odds and ends, but these were the main issues. The 1903 family is really just a somewhat modified 1898 Mauser, and in some cases the changes were not positive changes, in my opinion. I wasn't there, anyway. the finished design was close enough, as mentioned by The Mountaineer, to force the US to pay a rolalty to Herr Mauser & Company until the begining of WWI.



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 Posted: Wed Feb 1st, 2006 10:06 PM
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BigBill
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Lets not forget in the beginning of WW2 we started off with the japanese with the 1903 bolt actions then later the US issued the garands.

This is the rifle used by the famous Sargent Alvin York.  Its not just a hollywood story played by Gary Cooper its a real life story of WWI. :thumbs:

Good job to "the mountaineer" and "charley" too thanks i don't have one yet and now I have to find "3" models instead of one? just kidding, I passed on two like this a while back it was a P14 and P17 different but similiar. A guy traded in his whole collection and i managed to get a SVT-40 Tokarev, Fn49 in 8mm(egyptian), FN49 in 30-06(luxemborg), an 1891 ARG carbine,  a 98 30-06 peru mauser and unforntunately i passed on the P14 & P17? I was out of cash.:sad:  I should of put them on the plastic because everything was so cheap.  The poor old chap was going to a nursing home and traded in his collection.

Last edited on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 10:08 PM by BigBill



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 Posted: Thu Feb 2nd, 2006 12:28 AM
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BigBill
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I have some questions forgive me i don't know too much about american made weapons;

 What kind of accuracy can we expect from an average 1903 with iron sites and out of the box standard ammo at 100yds?  Group size average?

How about a scoped sniper whats the distance she can group good at man sized targets(what her range of operation?)

Its funny the 1903 in the was copied from the 7x57 mauser and developed to go up against the 8mm mauser which it couldn't out perform the ballastics of the 8mm mauser round.  The gun powder that was used in the 8mm back then is no longer made it made the 8mm ballastically more potent. 

Last edited on Thu Feb 2nd, 2006 12:29 AM by BigBill



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 Posted: Thu Feb 2nd, 2006 03:27 AM
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Charley



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What kind of accuracy can we expect from an average 1903 with iron sites and out of the box standard ammo at 100yds?  Group size average

Depends upon the rifle. I had a low numbered 1903 (675XXX) range, and sights were not good by modern standards. The battle sight had a pretty small notch, and the flip up aperature was tiny! Works ok with 18 year old farmboy recruits, but a tough sight to use when you're older! I could usually get 1 1/2 to 2 inch groups at 100 yards from a bench, using PMC ball, which was close to M2 ball. An 03A3 with the aperature rear sight is a lot faster and easier to hit with.  Accuracy was about the same for me.

I know little about the 1903A4, but I have read that the A4 was considered a serious threat to personel out to about 400 yards or so.

Heres a bit more 1903 trivia:

The US Army wasn't entirely pleased with the new M1903. Some of this can no doubt be attributed to traditionalists, who would rather have been toting M1873 Trapdoors in .45/70. (Kinda like those who belittled the Mattie Mattel M16 when it debuted in SE Asia. They'd rather have carried M14s, or even M1s!)

 That said, the M1903 did have teething troubles. The original cartridge, the .30/03 was equal to the world standard at the time. Original ballistics were a 220 grain RN FMJ bullet (identical to the bullet used in the Krag) at 2200 to 2300 FPS. This seems rather pedestrian today, but was hot stuff back then. Trouble was, smokeless powder development was in its infancy, and the 2200-2300 FPS dropped to 2000 FPS, same as the Krag, because the powders used at the time were very errosive. It was calculated that the 2300 FPS load would have a barrel life of 1000 rounds.

While Ordnance worked on the problem with barrel life, the Germans developed the Spitzer bullet and load for their 8x57. Bullet weight was dropped almost 25%, velocity was increased some 600 to 800 FPS, and the German load made the 220 grain .30/03 seem to have all the ballistic capability of a thrown rock. The US reduced weight as well, dropping the bullet from 220 grains to 150 grains, and upping the velocity (thanks to improved propellants) to 2700 FPS.  The cartridge neck was shortened about 1/10 of an inch, and adopted as Model 1906 Mark I Ammunition.

The 1903 copied another European nation’s rifle as well. As originally envisioned, and produced as the Model of 1901, the rifle was to have had a 30 inch barrel, similar to the Krag rifle, with carbines and short rifles to be produced for artillery, mounted troops, and other special units. When England adopted the Short, Magazine Lee-Enfield with one barrel length for all troops, the US studied the issue before series production began. It was found that a 24 inch barrel did not seriously affect performance, so that barrel length was adopted for production. This certainly simplified production and supply.

One characteristic shows up on WWI era Springfields from time to time, and many people today have no idea what it means. Some 65,000 exhibit an oval shaped hole in the left wall of the receiver. This rifle is the 1903 MarkI, and was converted to be fitted with the Automatic Pistol, Caliber .30, Model of 1918, AKA the Pederson Device. This was an insert that replaced the rifle’s bolt with a chamber and blowback breechblock, and converted the high powered, bolt action rifle to a low powered semi-automatic rifle. The cartridge was similar, but longer and more powerful than the .32 ACP. (the French actually copied the cartridge with their 1930s period 7.65 Long, pistol/submachine gun cartridge…dimensions are very, very close!)

 

 

 

Last edited on Thu Feb 2nd, 2006 03:29 AM by Charley



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 Posted: Sat Feb 4th, 2006 09:03 PM
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Big John
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Verry cool my dad has had 2 or 3 and loved all of them.



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 Posted: Mon Dec 20th, 2010 01:54 AM
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neck turner
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True, however; US only paid one year, the amount of $100,000.00.



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 Posted: Mon Dec 20th, 2010 01:57 AM
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neck turner
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Charley wrote: The 1903 Springfield family has a long and interesting history. After the Spanish American War, the US Army wanted Mauser type rifles in the worst way. The Krag rifle, which had been in service for less than 10 years was showing its age, at least concept wise, already.

The Ordnance Department wanted several features on the new rifle, some that still make excellent sense, and some that, in hindsight, seem kinda stupid today. Things they wanted included:

1. Full .30 caliber bullet, at a higher velocity than the Krag's 2000 FPS or so.

2. Charger loading, AKA clip loading. This was seen as a huge advantage of the Mauser rifles over the Krag

3. Magazine cut off. For 60 year old ordanance guys, whose careers began in the era of single shot rifle muskets, the idea of a magazine rifle was disquieting, to say the least. It was expected that fire discipline could not be taught to the average soldier, so a magazine cut off was included in the design. the rifle was used as a single shot most of the time, and the contents of the magazine was held for emergency use. I've read that cut offs were often highly polished on the "off" side, so NCOs could look down the firing line and see that doctrine was being followed.

4. Replaceable firing pin tip.  Firing pins were often suspect, particularly during the early years of corrsively primed cartridges. It was considered that the replaceable tip would save money over replacing the entire firing pin.

5. Some sort of knob or handle on the cocking piece. It was felt that a second strike capability was important in a battle rifle. Why this couldn't be done by raising the bolt handle was never answered. Anyway, the cocking piece on the 1903 rifle is very distinctive.

They wanted other odds and ends, but these were the main issues. The 1903 family is really just a somewhat modified 1898 Mauser, and in some cases the changes were not positive changes, in my opinion. I wasn't there, anyway. the finished design was close enough, as mentioned by The Mountaineer, to force the US to pay a rolalty to Herr Mauser & Company until the begining of WWI.
(New Guy) sorry for the weird post, hopefully this will be more to the point.The US did pay Mauser for patent problems, however; it was only one year-as the courts didn't move any faster then than now, the amount was $100,000.00, the war fixed any further payments!



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 Posted: Mon Dec 20th, 2010 01:57 AM
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neck turner
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The US did pay Mauser for patent problems, however; it was only one year-as the courts didn't move any faster then than now, the amount was $100,000.00, the war fixed any further payments!
Duplicate-06



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 Posted: Mon Dec 20th, 2010 05:23 AM
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And old post. But some thoughts.
SSgt. Alving York did not use an '03 nor and '03 a3. Gary Cooper the actor that played the part in the movie DID use and '03.

York used a 30-06 alright, but it was an american made 1917 Enfield. This was one of the things that York use to tell tourists in his retirement years, and he wished they would have done it correct in the movie.
For years I've tried to track down the alledged "royalties" paid to Mauser or other German entities for the right in the Springfield rifle. I really don't believe such was paid. IF ANYONE knows of any facts on this I'd love to know. I realize there is tons of magazine articles and a few books that repeat this story; but no one seems to know the origin or the facts. Specifically if there was a patent royality, what was the patent involved????



 Posted: Mon Dec 20th, 2010 10:31 AM
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Big Bill in a post in 2006 asked about accuracy in the 03.  I have read about Marines  from the 5th Marine Regiment, making shots up 800-900 yds with the 03.  The Germans gave the Marines the name of "Devil Dogs" in WWI.



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 Posted: Mon Dec 20th, 2010 11:55 AM
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Some still use the venerable old warhorse for 1000 yd shooting comps. I used one for nearly 20 years as my deer hunter. Getting it rebarreled into a 25-06. I do not have a mid sized shooter and the 03 is as good as they come for an old poor boy. Picked up a 17 Enfield by Winchester in '06 and a Swede Mauser converted to it. The '06 has proven itself for over a century as a very reliable round capable of taking any game any where or taking the fight to the enemy at any range. But I may be a bit prejudiced--LOL. 



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 Posted: Mon Dec 20th, 2010 03:21 PM
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neck turner
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BEAR wrote: And old post. But some thoughts.
SSgt. Alving York did not use an '03 nor and '03 a3. Gary Cooper the actor that played the part in the movie DID use and '03.

York used a 30-06 alright, but it was an american made 1917 Enfield. This was one of the things that York use to tell tourists in his retirement years, and he wished they would have done it correct in the movie.
For years I've tried to track down the alledged "royalties" paid to Mauser or other German entities for the right in the Springfield rifle. I really don't believe such was paid. IF ANYONE knows of any facts on this I'd love to know. I realize there is tons of magazine articles and a few books that repeat this story; but no one seems to know the origin or the facts. Specifically if there was a patent royality, what was the patent involved????


I don't know what books, or magazine articles you have read, however; If you take the time to read American Rifle Biography, Alexander-Ross, Roosevelt's Rifle chapter, pages 271-278, I'm sure it will help you out.  

April 5 1905 the Treasury Approved ROYALTY payments of 75 cents/rifle plus 50 cents per thousand clips up to a ceiling to $200,000..........



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 Posted: Mon Dec 20th, 2010 04:32 PM
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thanks Neckturner, I'll check it out.



 Posted: Mon Dec 20th, 2010 06:14 PM
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U.S. Patents held by Mauser as related to the 1903 rifle

U.S. Letter Patent

590271    11/13/1909

547933     4/13/1908

527869     8/12/1907

477671     2/15/1906

467180     3/29/1906

547932     4/14/1908

482376     9/13/1907

 



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 Posted: Tue Feb 8th, 2011 10:35 PM
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Got nothing to add to this. except...have a good 'un, TCG



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