Springfield Armory Museum - Collection Record

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Title:RIFLE, MILITARY -  U.S. RIFLE MODEL 1903 .30 SN# 120993
Date of Manufacture:1906
Eminent Figure:
Catalog Number:SPAR 5571
Measurements:OL:110.4CM 43 1/2" BL: 60.9CM 24" 8.5 lbs.

Object Description:

U.S. RIFLE MODEL 1903 .30 SN# 120993
Manufactured by Springfield Armory, Springfield, Mass. - Standard Model 1903 bolt-action 5-round clip-fed magazine rifle. Blued finish with full-length walnut stock. M1903 sight. Ramrod bayonet. Weapon weighs approximately 8.5 lbs. Nicks in stock otherwise in good condition.

Receiver: U.S./SPRINGFIELD/ARMORY/MODEL 1903/120993. Underside: X, Q, Z, E, U, R, I, D. Barrel: (P, J, O, S.)
Triggerguard: G.
Stock: J.S.A./1905. 54. P in circle. J.S.A. = J.Sumner Adams
Band: U.

Weapon transferred to the Museum from Mr. O'Neil's office, Water Shops, on 7 April 1933.

"120993-060440-OO TO SA" - Serial numbers compliments of Frank P. Mallory, www.armscollectors.com.

Notes: "From the time Springfield Armory was established in 1795 until its final closing in 1968, an impressive number of firearms, from the flintlock U.S. Musket Model 1795 to the U.S. Rifle, cal. 7.62 mm, M14 were manufactured there. Yet, when we speak of a 'Springfield Rifle" we usually mean the U.S. Magazine Rifle, Model of 1903. Perhaps one of the reasons for this is the exceptionally high quality of this rifle as produced by Springfield Armory.
Certainly no military and few sporting arms, then or since, have been produced to such exacting standards as this Springfield. In fact, the Springfield rifle was not produced solely for service use. Approximately 30,000 National Match Rifles as well as 5,000 NRA Sporters were produced. These were exceptionally high quality select rifles designed for what their names imply.
The Springfield was born in the years immediately following the Spanish-American War of 1898. In that war the U.S. Army had learned the price which must be paid on the battlefield when a nation's troops are armed with an inferior service rifle.
In that conflict, the Spanish 1893 Mauser had clearly proven its superiority to the 'trapdoor' Springfield and the Krag rifles carried by U.S. troops. Hence a board of officers was appointed to make a recommendation to the Secretary of War concerning the adoption of a new service rifle.
The board met in 1900 to consider a prototype rifle fabricated by personnel at Springfield Armory. They met again in 1901 to examine two more prototypes, each employing alternative means of overcoming the board's criticism of the first test model. From the two rifles, the board selected the best features and proposed a 'U.S. Magazine Rifle, Cal..30, Model of 1901.' The War Department, being confident that the 1901 rifle would be demonstrably superior to the Krag, authorized both retooling, necessary for the Springfield Armory to convert from production of the Krag to production of the M1901 model, and the fabrication of 5,000 M1901 rifles. It was not, however, to be .
Fiscal constraints and a continuing requirement for rifles 'of (the) approved type' brought a curtailment of funding for the M1901. Instead of receiving money for tools and 5,000 guns, the Armory got $1,700 to make 100 rifles, for subsequent testing by board of officers and by selected troops of the infantry and cavalry. The 100 were made, drawing on the then recent experience of other nations' armies, with barrels of 30", 26" and 24" in length.
In its report on these trials, the Ordnance Department noted both the universal appeal and utility of the 24" barrel test rifles, and the assurance by personnel from Frankford Arsenal that ammunition could be made to give 2,300 f.p.s. velocity from the short barrel. As a result, the Secretary of War, on June 19, 1903, approved the 24"-barrel M1901 prototype, with incorporated minor changes, as the U.S. Magazine Rifle, Cal..30, Model of 1903.
With War Department approval in hand, Springfield Armory set about the fabrication of tooling for the manufacture of 200 rifles per eight-hour day. Simultaneously, armory personnel built a second set of tools - for installation at Rock Island Arsenal - and continued with production of the Krag. Krags and M1903 rifles were made simultaneously at Springfield Armory from November, Rifle production was suspended in January, 1905 while two alterations were being made, the Model 1905 bayonet and the Model 1905 rear sight being adopted at this time. During 1906, a new cartridge which drove a 150-gr. spitzer bullet at 2700 f.p.s., replaced the original cartridge with its 220-gr. round-nose bullet.
The new M1906 cartridge had a neck .07' shorter than the old M1903 cartridge. To accommodate the new cartridge it was necessary to cut two threads of .2" off the breech threads and rechamber. Production was again suspended from November of 1906 through February of 1907 in order to rechamber some 200,000 existing rifles.
Production figures for Springfield Armory were July 1, 1903 to July 1, 1904 - 30,503; July 1, 1904 to July 1, 1905 - 43,905; July 1, 1905 - July 1, 1906 - 97,603; July 1, 1906 - July 1, 1907 - 102,116.
From February, 1907 until November, 1913, production of M1903 rifles with changes incorporated in 1905-1907 continued unabated at both Springfield and Rock Island. On November 14, 1913, however, Rock Island ceased to operate its rifle production line. By that date, the arsenal had turned out 234,830 M1903s. Springfield Armory had made some 565,000 more, an adequate supply for service needs.
Springfield continued to produce rifles at a modest rate until, by the time of the U.S. entry into World War I, a total of 843,239 M1903 rifles had been made. Rock Island resumed M1903 production on February 25, 1917 and made 47,251 rifles during the war. Springfield, during the same period, produced another 265,627 M1903s so that, by war's end, the total stood at 1,155,107. Impressive number that may be, but when one considers the number of soldiers which this country sent overseas during the war (almost 2 million) it becomes quite obvious that some other rifle must have been used to arm the bulk of our servicemen. That other rifle was the Model 1917, 2,193,429 of which were manufactured by Remington, Winchester and Eddystone during the war. Thus certainly less than half of our combat troops were armed with 'Springfield' rifles during the Great War.
It was during World War I that one of the two minor changes in the M1903 rifle made between 1907 and 1940 was effected. Not readily visible, this change, which took place early in 1918, was in the heat treatment of the carbon steel used for rifle receivers and bolts.
From November 1903 until late in 1917 all Springfield receivers and bolts were casehardened. Throughout the entire period there were isolated instances of receivers failing, both during proving and in service. It was not, however, until World War I that the strength and safety of casehardened receivers were seriously questioned.
During the war the capacity of Frankford Arsenal was not sufficient to meet wartime demand for cartridge cases. The stress of wartime manufacture by inexperienced private contractors led to the production of some brass with 'soft' heads, and this in turn led to the first major problems of blown-up Springfield rifles.
The investigation of this problem was assigned to Captain Julian S. Hatcher, later a major general and still later senior technical advisor of the American Rifleman. Hatcher found that the receivers were improperly heat-treated, that the steel had indeed been made brittle.
This led to an intensive investigation of the heat-treatment of steel at the two armories. The result was a new means of heat-treating receivers in which receivers were heated, quenched, then heated and quenched again at a slightly lower temperature. The second heating left a glass-hard outer surface, but 'drew' the interior of each receiver, leaving it tough and strong.
Just when the change in heat treatment from casehardening to the so-called 'double heat-treatment' occurred at Springfield Armory is unknown. Officials selected receiver No. 800,000, completed on Feb. 20, 1918, as the sure changeover point. However, the change may have taken place as eaBecause of a suspension of manufacture at Rock Island Arsenal during February, March, and April of 1918, we can pinpoint the first use of the new double heat-treatment process at the facility as commencing with receiver No. 285,507 when production was resumed in May, 1918.
Very shortly thereafter, beginning about August 1, 1918 with receiver No. 319,921, Rock Island Arsenal turned to the use of nickel steel. This change no doubt was influenced by the fact that at the time Remington, Winchester, and Eddystone were all using a similar nickel steel in their production of the U.S. Model 1917 Rifle. The Springfield Armory did not made the change to nickel steel receivers until April of 1927 with receiver 1,275,767.
The safety of M1903 receivers numbered below 800,000 (for Springfield guns) and 285,507 (for Rock Island) is still the subject of some debate.
Before we condemn low numbered Springfields, though, we should probably recall that during their first 15 years of service they seemed safe and reliable, and they performed credibly in battle. However, a few of them, perhaps only a very few now, are really unsafe.
In 1928 the Ordnance Department issued instructions to have all such low numbered Springfields set aside for war reserve and not issued to troops, although no move was made to withdraw those already in the hands of troops. After 1945, the DCM made an effort to recall low-numbered Springfields by offering new M1903 receivers as replacements for a nominal fee, when these were exhausted, M1903A3 barreled actions were substituted in their place.
The second change which occurred after 1905-07 was the standardization on December 5, 1929 of the M1903A1. Because so few were made, the M1903A1 is a generally misunderstood rifle.
The only difference between the M1903 and the Model 1903A1 is fitted with a full pistol grip Type C stock. Anyone who has fired the old M1903 rifle will agree that a new stock design was long overdue. The new stock is slightly longer (about 1/6"), but in my opinion the major improvement consists of its having a pistol grip and less drop in the stock at both heel and comb. The new C stock certainly had more wood in it and it was fitted with a checkered steel butt plate.
As a matter of fact, the Springfield 1903A1 rifle made a pretty fair target rifle just as issued. With the C stock the rifle handled recoil much better than did the old Springfield M1903 with its straight gripped style 'S' stock. One didn't have to be quite so careful where one put that right thumb. Nonetheless, with that big cocking piece protruding from the bolt sleeve, I always felt safer with my thumb alongside the stock. I still do more than 35 years later.
Although the M1903A1 Springfield rifle was adopted as the service rifle in 1929, precious few were ever used in the service. The reasons for this, of course, was that by the time the M1903A1 was approved Springfield Armory had already produced some 1.3 million M1903 rifles and Rock Island Arsenal had produced nearly 400,000 more. In addition to this, over 2 million U.S. Model 1917 rifles were either in storage or in the hands of National Guard units.
The total number of rifles thus available was well in excess of requirements and after 1927, no M1903 service rifles were made. Production from that year until the beginning of World War II was devoted to .22 cal. rifles and to National Match and other special .30 cal. rifles.
Further, the decision was made to use up the supply of straight grip, style S stocks on hand before beginning any program to fit existing service rifles with Type C stocks. That took ten years, until 1939, so that only the few M1903 rifles assembled from parts on hand in the early stages of World War II were actually assembled as M1903A1s. Of course, National Match rifles from 1929 on were fitted with Type C stocks and M1903 rifles purchased from the DCM could be ordered with the full pistol grip stock.
Though no service rifles were assembled, the years from 1927 to 1939 did sThere were four .22 cal. models: the Cal. .22 M1903 (1907-1916); the Cal. .22 M1922 (1922-1924); the Cal. .22, M1922M1 (1925-1933); and finally the Cal. .22, M2 (1933-1942). The first of these used regular Cal. .30 Model 1903 receivers from the production line. They did not chamber the .22 rimfire cartridge directly, but employed the Hoffer-Thompson cartridge holder, a device shaped regular M1906 cartridge which fed through an unaltered M1903 action. Most if not all of these were destroyed after World War I.
Each of the other three models were chambered for the .22 L.R. rimfire cartridge. These models were serial numbered separately, each commencing with NO. 1. However, as each model succeeded its predecessor, all outstanding rifles were called in and altered to conform to the latest model. At that time the receiver markings and serial numbers were also changed as follows: Upon issue of the M1922M1 the former M1922 was stamped with the final M1. Upon issue of the M2 the M1922 was stamped with a final M11 and the M1922 M1 was stamped with a final 1 so it would read M1922M11.
The letters A or B were added to the serial numbers of the 1922 and 1922M1 rifles in order to avoid having two, or perhaps three, rifles with the same serial number. Serial numbers for the M1922M1 and M2 run as high as 20,768 and 21,072, respectively." - An American Rifleman Reprint

Army #5178 - Weapon loaned to Commanding Officer, Springfield Armory, on May 4, 1940. At that time weapon was appraised at $47.65.
Army #5178 - Weapon loaned to Thaddeus Konarski, Acting Commander, Polish-American Veterans, Chicopee, Ma. from 27 June 1958 to 30 June 1958.

American Rifleman Reprint. MODEL 1903 SPRINGFIELD RIFLES. National Rifle Association. Fairfax, Virginia. 2002.
Brophy, William S. THE SPRINGFIELD 1903 RIFLES. Stackpole Books. Harrisburg, Pa. 1985.
Collector Grade Publications Inc. Cobourg, Ontario, Canada. 1994.
Harrison, Jesse C. COLLECTING THE '03 SPRINGFIELD. The Arms Chest. Oklahoma City, Ok. 1993.

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