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Antique Military Firearms
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This is an all-original and beautiful Springfield Armory Model 1903 Rifle that was manufactured in January 1918.  The United States declared war on Germany in WWI, in April 1917, but the first U.S. soldiers from the American Expeditionary Force or “AEF” did not arrive in France until June, 1917.  By the end of June, only about 14,000 American soldiers were in France and they did not engage in combat operations until October 1917.  Because of the scarcity of Model 1903 Rifles, all available weapons were issued to soldiers heading to France so it is highly likely that this rifle made its way to France during WWI.

 

Springfield Model 1903 Rifles manufactured in 1917 and early 1918 are rare because, prior to serial number 800,000, manufactured in early 1918, Springfield used a single heat treatment on receivers.  The double heat treatment process was introduced at Springfield from serial numbers 750,001 and 800,000.  There were numerous reports from the field in 1917 and 1918 of receiver (and bolt) failures.  Although much of these failures (and perhaps most) could later be attributed to faulty ammunition (too high loads or case failures), the single heat treatment process could not be ruled out so the U.S. Army Ordnance Department ordered all “low serial number” Springfield 1903 Rifles, those under serial number 800,000, to be returned for cleaning and repair.  During the clean and repair process the receivers were ordered to be destroyed. 

 

Prior to WWI, Model 1903 Rifles were manufactured at both Springfield Armory and Rock Island Arsenal.  By 1913, the relatively small U.S. Army was fully equipped with the Model 1903 Rifle so the decision was made to cease 1903 production at Rock Island Arsenal since Springfield could easily keep pace with the demand of new 1903 Rifles.

 

With war for the United States on the horizon, Congress increased appropriations for 1903 Rifle production in September 1916.  These appropriations led to an order on September 19, 1916, for Rock Island Arsenal to resume 1903 production (although production did not actually commence until February 1917).  Congress also appropriated sufficient funds for Springfield Armory to attain full production for one shift and, ultimately, two shifts, as soon as possible.  At the time, Springfield only employed 608 men and it was estimated that 3,000 employees would be needed to staff two full shifts of production and other armory-related duties.  The growth of private small arms manufacturing during the period, however, led to a shortage of skilled men in the area such that Springfield Armory 1903 production remained low throughout 1916 and 1917 and even into early 1918 when this rifle was manufactured. 

 

Additionally, Springfield maintained other obligations as a United States Armory, such as the manufacture of spare parts for the 1903 Rifle, parts for the Model 1909 Machine Gun, manufacture of the cavalry saber and manufacture of the Springfield Armory Model 1911 Pistol, all of which contributed to relatively low 1903 Rifle production. 

 

Over the course of 1917, Springfield began to draw down non-1903 Rifle related production, to include stopping 1911 Pistol production altogether.  These changes in 1917 did not materially increase 1903 production for that year, but it did set the Armory up for a dramatic increase in rifle production for 1918.  In any event, as the foregoing facts attest, Springfield Armory production in 1917 and early 1918 was very small and this, along with the post-WWI order to destroy low serial number rifle receivers, demonstrates the scarcity of original configuration Springfield Armory 1903 Rifles manufactured during 1917 and early 1918.

 

The bolt in this rifle is the correct Springfield Armory straight handle type with the small gas hole.  The bolt retains 75% of its original blued finish that exhibits wear and thinning along the sharp edges and friction points with more pronounced wear on the handle.  The extractor collar is milled and retains 90% of its original blued finish. The bottom of the bolt handle root has a Rockwell Hardness Punch Test mark.  The bottom of the safety lug is marked with the Springfield Armory heat lot number “C 8,” which is the correct heat lot number for Springfield bolts manufactured in January 1918 until March 1918.  The bolt face exhibits wear consistent with firing but remains very clean.  The extractor has the correct small gas escape hole. The extractor retains 95% of its original blued finish on the exterior surface with more of the original, deep blue finish on the underside. 

 

The Cocking Piece retains considerable original blue finish on the long, firing pin portion with wear noted along the friction points where the bolt sleeve rests and along the center section.  The sear lug retains considerable original finish with sear noted on the edges and where it engages the sear.  The head of the cocking piece retains considerable original finish although it is thinning on the back end of the head itself.  There is correctly no hole on the bottom of the cocking piece head.  The head has four distinct rings of fine serrations and two distinct rings where the head tapers down towards the lug.  The firing pin spring remains in the white and has 33 coils.

 

The Firing Pin Collar retains 85% of the original blue finish along the ribbed portion with wear noted along the striker collar and on the sharp edges of the ribs.  The Striker retains the vast majority of its original blued finish with wear noted on the tip.

 

The Bolt Sleeve is the correct 3-position type that retains considerable original blue finish on both sides and the top with wear on the sharp points.  The Safety is the correct second Springfield type with sans serif “READY” stamped on the right side and sans serif “SAFE” stamped on the left.  The Safety exhibits remnants of the original color case-hardened finish although it is generally thinned to a dull blue patina.  The detent remains correctly in the white.

 

The Trigger Guard is the correct Third Type and remains in very fine condition.  The trigger slot on the earlier type guard was 1.0” long and it was discovered that this length permitted the trigger to be pushed forward just enough to actuate the sear, which would result in the rifle firing.  To remedy this problem, Type 1 Trigger Guards were modified with a transverse pin at the forward portion of the trigger slot to prevent the trigger from being moved forward.  The addition of this transverse pin resulted in what is now known as the Type 2 Trigger Guard.  Subsequently, a new trigger guard with a trigger slot .025 inches shorter was adopted, which permanently solved the problem and this particular guard is that type. This particular trigger guard retains the vast majority of its original blue finish, to include the magazine and the trigger guard bow. 

 

The Floor Plate is also in very fine condition and retains the vast majority of its original blued finish on both sides.  There is a serif “R” stamp just forward of the floor plate lug.  The follower retains the majority of its original blue finish on the left and right ledges on top with wear noted on the center dividing piece.  The bottom of the follower retains 95% of its original blue finish with wear noted from friction with the follower spring.  The Follower Spring retains the majority of its original heat tempered blue finish.  Both original Screws are present, and both retain the majority of their original blued finish with unmarred slots. 

 

The Adjustable Rear Sight is the correct Springfield Armory type and is in fine condition.  The Elevation Leaf, which is calibrated to 2,850 yards, has the correct, and Springfield unique, “7”s with the curved bottom leg.  The back, bottom portion of the leaf has the serif “G” stamp.  The Elevation Slide retains considerable original blue finish with the face remaining correctly in the white.  The Elevation Binding Knob is the correct dished type with knurled edge and no groove.  The Drift Slide has the horizontal line that bisects the peep hole, and it retains approximately 98% of its original blue finish.  The rear of the Drift Slide has the number “5” stamp, indicating the size of the peep is .05” in diameter.  The Rear Sight still adjusts crisply for elevation and windage.

 

The Rear Sight Moveable Base retains the vast majority of its original blue finish.  The Spring retains approximately 95% of its original finish.  The Windage Knob is the correct ½” diameter type that is knurled along the outer edge with no groove and it has the concave outer surface with raised dimple.  The Knob retains the majority of its original blued finish.

 

The fixed rear sight base is the correct type with lightening cuts on the sides.  The top and bottom portions of the base retain the vast majority of its original blued finish. The bottom of the base has several inspection stamps.  The base pin ends are still smooth.

 

The Receiver is in its original configuration and was never modified with the addition of a Hatcher hole.  The Receiver retains the vast majority of its original blued finish on the bottom, protected side and on the top, exposed portion.  The top of the chamber is marked with the sans serif “U.S. / SPRINGFIELD / ARMORY / MODEL 1903.” Followed by the serial number in sans serif, “785821,” over the chamber.  The bottom flat of the receiver has numerous inspection stamps.  The original Bolt Stop, Hold Open mechanism is in place and it retains the majority of its original blue finish with the pin remaining in the white on the exposed end.  The interior rails retain considerable original blue finish with wear noted on the friction points and sharp edges.  The Ejector is present and retains considerable blue finish with the exception of the point and leading edge.  The original Magazine Cutoff is in fine condition and retains the majority of its original color case-hardened finish.  The “ON” and “OFF” are correctly in sans serif font and the “ON” side is correctly polished to the white.

 

The Sear is the correct 1st Type that has the rounded end with no hole under the spring seat.  It is correctly marked with the sans serif Springfield “S” on the left side.  The Sear retains the majority of its original finish with only minor wear noted.  The Sear Pin Head retains virtually all of its original blue finish.  The Trigger is the correct 2nd Type with six vertical grooves and a knurled tip.  The Trigger retains the majority of its original blued finish with wear noted at the point that the trigger traverses the trigger slot in the guard. 

 

The original Springfield Armory Barrel is in remarkable condition.  The Barrel retains 98% of the original blue finish throughout.  The barrel is marked just to the rear of the front sight base with the crisp “SA / Ordnance Bomb / 1-18” stamp.  The underside of the barrel has the sans serif “J57” heat lot number.  The bore on this barrel is excellent with a mirror finish and strong rifling.  The breech end of the barrel exhibits little wear and the muzzle gauges at just over 0, so this rifle was hardly ever fired.

 

The Front Sight Base is secured tightly to the barrel and it retains the majority of its original blued finish with wear noted on the sides from the sight protector.  The Adjustable Front Sight retains considerable original blue finish as does the top blade.  The front sight is securely fastened to the front sight base with the original set screw and the single slot in the screw is unmarred.  The original stake marks on the sight and base align perfectly.  The front sight is protected by its original Front Sight Protector, which retains 95% of its original blued finish. 

 

The Stock on this rifle is in beautiful, original condition and it has never been sanded and retains its original oil finish.  It is the correct Springfield Armory straight or “S” stock with both stock bolts.  The grasping grooves on both the right and left side still have the very crisp edges. 

 

The left stock flat has the rarely seen, correct and crisp boxed with rounded corners cartouche with the sans serif initials “E.H.D.,” which stands for Springfield Inspector Edmund H. Donnelly, who was an inspector at Springfield Armory in 1918.  The magazine cutoff recess on the stock has a sans serif “D” inspection stamp.  The bottom of the stock wrist has the correct circle, script “P” firing proof stamp below the number “8” inspection stamp.  The interior of the stock has numerous inspection stamps including a sans serif “T” stamp just forward of the rear receiver screw recess, a sans serif “X” and sans serif “D” stamp just to the rear of the front receiver screw recess and a sans serif “T” stamp in the fixed rear sight base recess.  There is another sans serif “T” stamp in the trigger guard recess.  There are minor dings and scratches but no cracks or chips are noted.  The stock retains its original oil finish and has never been sanded.  There are no rebuild marks.

 

The Butt Plate on this stock is a good condition, smooth Type 1 with smooth trap door.  The butt plate and the smooth tang exhibit largely a mixed blue and plum patina and there is evidence of old corrosion on the back that moves up onto the tang.  The dome head, single-slot tang screw retains traces of its original blue finish and the slot is unmarred.  The lower butt plate screw with flat head is largely a pewter patina with original blued finish in the slot and the slot is unmarred.  The Trap Door opens and closes securely.  Inside the butt compartment in the stock is the original First Type nickel-plated brass cleaning oiler and thong case.  Inside the oiler is the original bore brush and brass pull through.

 

The original Handguard is the correct Springfield high hump type with the fixture slot on the underside.  There is a “79” and a serif “Y” stamp just forward of the fixture slot.  The Handguard has the concave sight protective ramp or swell and the short sight clearance cut.  The windage knob clearance cut is the correct large, semi-circular shape. Both metal clips are present and both retain the majority of their original blue finish. The color of the handguard matches the finish on the stock perfectly.   There are very small dings and scratches on the handguard but no cracks or chips noted 

 

The rear sling swivel is the correct milled and unmarked type that exhibits considerable original blued finish.  Both single-slot screws are unmarred. The lower band has the correct sans serif "U" stamp on the right side, and it exhibits largely a pewter patina with traces of blued finish in the protected areas.  The sling swivel has the correct solid shank and it also retains considerable original blued finish.  The band spring on the right side of the stock retains 95% of its original blued finish.

 

The upper band with bayonet lug is the correct Springfield Armory milled type with the sans serif "H" hardened stamp (the "H" stamp was used by Springfield and never by Rock Island). The upper band retains considerable original blued finish. The single slot band screw is unmarred and retains the majority of its original blued finish. The stacking swivel is present and generally exhibits a pewter patina.

 

This is beautiful example of a very early 1918-manufactured WWI Springfield Armory Model 1903 Service Rifle.  It is quite scarce to find early 1918-dated 1903 rifles, particularly in their original configuration.  This rifle still functions perfectly.