Low Numbered 1903 Springfields - Pensacola Fishing Forum

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Old 05-08-2011, 10:23 AM   #1
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Default Low Numbered 1903 Springfields

I recently saw an ad on a local "list" advertising a low numbered 1903 Springfield for sale. The ad stated " the receiver had been re-heat treated and was safe to shoot".

For any that don't know, as I once didn't, low numbered 1903s can never be made safe to shoot. Some receivers made prior to serial numbers 800,000 in Springfield Armory and 286,506 in Rock Island Armory were improperly heat treated while being made. The armories were using visual means to determine when the receivers and bolts were at the proper temperture to achieve the correct hardening. This caused receivers being treated on sunny days to be overtreated and those on cloudy days to be undertreated. This problem was corrected on the higher numbered receivers by using a thermometer on the furnaces.

There is no way to tell if a certain low numbered receiver was improperly hardened other than destroying it. And there is no way it could ever be re-treated because you wouldn't know if it was over, under or just right to begin with.

All this said I shot the hell out of my first low numbered Rock Island 03 before I knew about the brittle receivers. I'd also like to thank the retired sherriff that sold me this rifle without enlightening me on the rifle's potential failure possibility. What a guy !!! This is one reason I am posting this information so any other unsuspecting collector won't make the same mistake.

Early bolts were also improperly treated but most of them have been removed from circulation and replaced with hardened bolts. But there are still a lot of low numbered receivers circulating around. Even they have collector value but are a risk to life and limb to shoot.

For more info on this, 1903s in general and a myriad of other infomation involving rifles, ammo and explosives read "Hatcher's Notebook" by Col Julian Hatcher. It's packed with useful and interesting information.

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Last edited by shootnstarz; 05-08-2011 at 10:25 AM.
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Old 05-08-2011, 11:17 AM   #2
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Thanks for sharing this and passing this information on to us about the rifle's potential failure possibility

Last edited by bobinbusan; 05-08-2011 at 11:23 AM. Reason: Corrections
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Old 05-08-2011, 12:58 PM   #3
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good post, I discovered this as well which led to to restore an 1903a3 rather than an original 03.... Good luck with yours....still a great collectable but I wanted a shooter with mine.. Thanks for the info on the Hatcher's Notebook...I will check it out..

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