Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sporterizing a Springfield 1903A3

I wouldn't do it now. Neither would most people. The 1903A3 rifles have become collector's items. But in 50 years ago they were common and a lot of old rifles were taken and modified. Here's some articles from the August and September 1957 issues of The American Rifleman on how to make an "economy sporter, deluxe sporter, or match rifle". How to cut down the stock, re-barrel the the action, drill and tap the receiver and more.

You still see these from time in gun shops or on-line auctions. Auction Arms has one currently for sale. The Buy It Now price is $425.00. It might be a fine shooter, but that's less than half what it would be worth if it had just been left unmodified.

Here's a picture from the auction. Bonus points for picking out what's wrong in the picture.


12 comments:

Old NFO said...

Is that Lyman on backward???

Borepatch said...

Give it a longer damned stock. I'm 6' 1", and I likely would have been rejected in the Great War draft because of my height.

Because we no longer had Grenadiers.

And so the 03 is unpleasant to shoot, because the bolt it a millimeter from my face.

ASM826 said...

OLD NFO,

Just the eyepiece. They can be threaded in from either side. I think it just needs to be put in from the back. I also am not sure it's a Lyman, might be a sight from some other company that was making knock-offs.

Hat Trick said...

Old NFO,
I think the sight body is not backward but the aperture piece certainly is.

Wolfman said...

I noticed the aperture eyepiece threaded in backwards, as well, but also the lines of the cheekpiece. There's a cut in the comb to clear the bottom of the cocking piece- that comb would be pretty miserable to try and shoot through a low peep like that. Especially if the stock is short, which seems pretty common in those years. My brother has a 1917 Enfield sporter, stocked at only 11" of pull. I scope myself every time.

greg said...

A few years ago, I found a sporterized 1903 in .257 Roberts for around $350...I passed on it because I didn't need a .257 at the time, AND you don't always know if the guy that did the work knew what he was doing.

Of course, now that I had to buy a .243 to take my daughter hunting this year, I kind of wish I had picked it up...

Glen Filthie said...

The hell of it was that most of those mods were cosmetic and the rifle didn't really shoot much better than the original did.
But I remember those days well. The cool kids were shooting the Weatherbys with their high gloss stocks, white line spacers and inlays. They look cheezy to the modern eye but back then - they were the stuff of dreams. Guys like us didn't have guns like that - they were in the realm of the high rollers with big cash.
At my gun shop the war surps were stored in BARRELS. You came by, picked through the bin to find one that 'looked good' - and went hunting.

newrebeluniv said...

Nothing lasts forever. I'd rather have a rifle I could shoot than one I had to worry about it's resale value if I scratched it.

Goober said...

Used to have a sporterized 03 rechambered to 308 norma. Good gun.

The guy who has it now has taken it to Africa three times. Killed a leopard with it among other things.

lee n. field said...

Backward's screw in aperture? Eh. That's better than what someone along the line did to a Westinghouse Mosin that my Dad has now.

Dovetail for a sight was cut, in the bolt.

daddybearsden.com said...

I picked up a Smith Corona 1903a3 a couple of years back. Luckily, they didn't cut the barrel, and the multiple holes they put in it to mount various scopes are only cosmetic. It'll never have any collectible value, but I have it on my "when money and time allow" list of things to restore.

c-90 said...

The Un-sporterized 03a3's are getting costly. But then again, you can buy rebuil drill rifle receiver's and stripped bolt from AIM Surplus or Old West Scrounger and with a careful search for parts build up an action that you can modify to your hearts delight because it's already been bastardized.

http://www.aimsurplus.com/catalog.aspx?search=1903

http://www.ows-ammo.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=454

Parts and rebuilt Drill rifles:
http://www.e-sarcoinc.com/springfield.aspx

and Numrich Parts can get you most of the original fiddly bits. and you can even take a smith corona receiver and make a 1903a4. 8*) Something that doesn't exist in the real world.

C-90