So bummed

Ironbar

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I recently came in to possession of a Rock Island Armory Springfield 1903 rifle. I was so happy that I was going to have it restored with a new stock to return it to military configuration. Serial number dated the rifle to the original year of manufacture- 1903! Yes, the serial is only four digits long.

Turns out from reports I read that the early serial 1903's were made using a flawed method of testing for proper heat treating of the barrels, making them too brittle. There's a very high risk for receiver failure and having the bolt fly right in to your face.

Turns out all I have is a conversation piece. :(
 
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You don't have "just a conversation piece", you have a piece of history. If it's been "sporterized" but still has the metal intact, I'd restore it. It still has value.

Yeah, I'd like to see some pics, too.
 

jbett98

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Here's the reason why you shouldn't fire the gun;

"It was determined that the workers responsible for heat treating the receivers had used an "eyeball" method that relied on the color of the heated metal to determine if the steel had been heated to the correct temperature.
Unfortunately, according to General Hatcher, the officer in charge of the investigation, "... it was quickly found that the ‘right heat’ as judged by the skillful eye of the old timers was up to 300 degrees hotter on a bright sunny day than it was on a dark cloudy one
Heating to the higher temperatures led to crystallization of trace elements within the steel, making it too hard, and rather than deforming under high pressure, the receiver shattered, often permitting the bolt to exit the receiver, causing injury to the shooter. Between 1917 and 1929 three soldiers lost an eye to receiver failure, and six more had unspecified injuries consider serious. An additional 34 soldiers received minor injuries from receiver failures. There were no deaths reported from the failure of a Springfield receiver."

Written by Joseph L. Lyon, M.D., M.P.H.
 
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I recently came in to possession of a Rock Island Armory Springfield 1903 rifle. I was so happy that I was going to have it restored with a new stock to return it to military configuration. Serial number dated the rifle to the original year of manufacture- 1903! Yes, the serial is only four digits long.

Turns out from reports I read that the early serial 1903's were made using a flawed method of testing for proper heat treating of the barrels, making them too brittle.
There's a very high risk for receiver failure
and having the bolt fly right in to your face. NOT TRUE
Turns out all I have is a conversation piece. :(
<broken link removed>
According to General Hatcher, No bolt was ejected into the shooter's face. (Hatcher's Notebook ch 8).
Of 285,507 receivers made at Rock Island Arsenal, there were 24 receiver failures (Hatcher's Notebook ch 18).
 
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The gun has been around for over 100 years and probably had the 1000s of rounds shot through it, and it's still in one piece....................... Just sayin'..........;)
 

clearconscience

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I would love to have one of those just for the history itself. There was a german luger for sale on here from WW1 with paperwork letters I think from the vet who brought it home, something along those lines. I'm still kicking myself for not buying it!!!!
I would never had shot it. Just the history and imagining the stories alone would tickle me daily
 
OP
Ironbar

Ironbar

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<broken link removed>
According to General Hatcher, No bolt was ejected into the shooter's face. (Hatcher's Notebook ch 8).
Of 285,507 receivers made at Rock Island Arsenal, there were 24 receiver failures (Hatcher's Notebook ch 18).
My mistake, but in any case I'd still rather not have the thing blow up on me in ANY way!

In other news, I've taken photos but Photobucket is having major issues this morning so I can't get them damn things posted! As soon as they're back up and running I'll let you all see it!

In other, other news, apparently the first RIA 1903's were manufactured in 1904. So this rifle is currently 110 years old!
 
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OP
Ironbar

Ironbar

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So in looking at photos of older model rifles, I'm wondering- is this some sort of aftermarket peep sight on this rifle? Could the forward sight leaf have been removed and this new peep been installed at a much later date? Even the front sight blade doesn't look correct. Has this rifle been extensively modified? What a shame to do this to such a historical piece!
 

JRuby

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I think if it was mine - I would shoot light loads through it only. Enjoy it. I bet from looking at it that there have been a lot of rounds fired through it in its life time. If the receiver has been drilled and tapped for that peep sight you arent going to restore it 100% back to original again.
 
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Here is my Springfield story. I was a firefighter in L.A. and at a swap meet one day I acquired an old Gamewell Bell from an old fire station. I paid $10 for it in 1977 with the intention of cleaning it up and re-selling it to another firefighter. Firefighters will buy anything that has anything to do with the fire service so I was confident of selling it after polishing the bell and painting the body. I was asking $40. One of the guys asked if I was interested in trading for a rifle and I said I was. The next day he brought in an 03A3 with a manufacture date of 1943. It was still in the original paper and was covered with cosmoline. We completed the trade and it sits in my safe today as we speak!
 

solv3nt

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One of the guys asked if I was interested in trading for a rifle and I said I was. The next day he brought in an 03A3 with a manufacture date of 1943. It was still in the original paper and was covered with cosmoline. We completed the trade and it sits in my safe today as we speak!
Pictures or it didn't happen. You must appease the gun gods...
 

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