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Rebuilding a 1941-era 1903 from an ex-drill receiver, looking for advice on what parts to get


ClaptonIsGod

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I have an undated photo of my late grandfather shooting this 1903, probably sometime in 1941:

07FEFDA9-A862-49C0-8B1A-67140514643E.jpeg.21417ebab3066ccf00d226b0693ea226.jpeg
 

I’ve decided to add one to my collection, and to both spread out the cost of buying one and have one I can shoot without regret, I bought a recommissioned mid-1918 (safe serial number) Springfield receiver and associated parts:43119309-6637-42BB-9733-DB1A879681B4.jpeg.aecea971606dac2eb5bf5a23233e57d2.jpeg

 

I also negotiated a reproduction pistol grip stock and original handguard with the seller. So, this leaves me needing to get the barrel, front sight, bands/swivels, rear sight, and butt plate, mainly. I’ve already bought the missing component of the bolt (believe the bolt is a straight original 1918 as well): https://www.ebay.com/itm/274594001707

 

My question now is, what specific versions of parts should I get to finish out the rifle that are faithful to what’s in the picture (either visible or presumed on timeframe)? I know for 1903 vs. 1903A3 I’m going to want milled, not stamped. Do I want a smooth or checkered buttplate? And where’s the best place to get a reproduction 1903 barrel? I’ve heard I want a flat-topped rear sight sleeve, and my Remington firing pin might be a bit on the late side, but I got a good deal and it’s in good shape/looks the same so I don’t care. I’ve seen a decent number of NOS 1944 barrels for sale, but guessing they’re different due to being configured for a 1903A3 and won’t work for my 1903 build.


Just looking for any advice or pointers I can get. I don’t have much gunsmithing experience, so I’ll probably have a pro attach the barrel to the receiver and definitely have it headspaced before I shoot it.

 

Thanks.

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The bolt you have pictured is a 1903A3 replacement bolt as evidenced by the machining cuts around the lug and the square lug itself. 

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Someone told me it was a straight handle and therefore 1918, oh well. Not the end of the world if it’s an A3 replacement, assuming it won’t get in the way of having the rest of the rifle configured as a 1903?

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Bolts are functionally interchangeable between the '03 and '03A3 (having checked headspace obviously, though not a factor here with no barrel installed).

 

Is your bolt marked CC? It is a later A3 unit since it has a square safety lug. 

 

Send me a PM, I might be able to help with parts.

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By 1941 most of the existing M1903 rifles had been rebuilt at least once, so...any preWW2 part would be acceptable. As a matter of fact most of the early 1930s SA produced 1903 receivers were mated to serviceable used parts to make new service rifles from turned in low number receivers. “S” type grooved stocks were the most common and is shown in your pix. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
ClaptonIsGod

My 1903 “kit” arrived yesterday, and the bolt is indeed marked CC so I suppose that makes it an A3. Oh well, I don’t think grandpa would mind. Screwed the receiver and trigger guard into the stock, no problems there but the stock will need a few good wipes of linseed oil.

 

Got the bolt assembled, it was full of probably a pound of grease which was certainly a bit of an unwelcome surprise to come pouring out when I pushed in the firing pin. Got the extractor on as well, the newly recomplete bolt assembly seems to get stuck at the end when I try to put it in the receiver so I’ll leave the bolt aside, start slowly assembling parts, and let a gunsmith deal with it.

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Scottz63

Cool, coming along.

 

How and where does it get stuck in the receiver?

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ClaptonIsGod
3 hours ago, Scottz63 said:

Cool, coming along.

 

How and where does it get stuck in the receiver?

I fixed half my problem. It was getting stuck for two reasons:

1. I had the extractor aligned with the small flat raised bit at the end of the bolt, not the locking lug

2. I didn’t have the extractor on fully, I had to get the two hooks surrounding the groove.

 

Now that I’ve gotten the bolt to slide most of the way in, it now presents a different issue in that it doesn’t want to close. It might just be because it’s missing the barrel, not sure, but it won’t rotate to close and the only rotation that happens is the extractor comes slightly out of alignment with the lug, which then prevents the bolt from being pulled back to the open position. Either the rifle is a basket currently without it’s missing parts, or I need to learn better how it works. Actually, both are likely.

 

B6046E53-F0EE-417A-820A-E365302BA864.jpeg.0f4487d558838241154446d026f8a49f.jpeg
2FA157AB-48FA-4E1B-875C-20F7DC2BC264.jpeg.9302a0d1ee02a8e59f04bcf8a619736f.jpeg

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M1Garandy

Extractor is in the wrong place. 

 

Remove bolt, rotate the extractor 90 degrees so it is on the RH side of the bolt instead of the top and reinsert. 

 

Right now the extractor is hitting the receiver and not allowing the bolt to go fully forward. 

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ClaptonIsGod

Yeah, that fixed it, thanks. That was how I had the extractor aligned initially, but between my not having it seated properly (making it catch the opening on the side of the receiver there), and then fixing it and seeing pictures of bolts with the extractors aligned to the locking lug for some reason, I tripped myself up. It’s a little tight now opening and closing even though it’s proper, nothing a little oil won’t fix once it’s been broken in again after its drill rifle slumber.

 

Oh well, this is how you learn. Hard to see the whole picture of how it functions when it’s still incomplete, but now I have a stock with a properly closed bolt sitting in the safe so I’m halfway there. Thanks.

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  • 4 weeks later...
ClaptonIsGod

I did some reflecting, and decided my CC bolt really doesn’t run smoothly from what I can tell, and since it’s wrong for the era and not Springfield, I might as will pick up this Springfield bolt for $25 and swap it in. Rounded lug hopefully puts me pre-war and correct for 1941, any significance to the 1232 on the handle?

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Looks like an early straight handle bolt used up until around 1912 with that letter code.  The numbers etched on the top are probably the last four of a rifle serial number that the bolt was part of at one time in its life. 

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Here's a good chart for identifying the correct bolt for your rifle: http://www.vishooter.net/m1903.html

  Notice that the bolt usage for a given time overlap as some of the bolt codes were used concurrently. Not knowing the serial number of your rifle(looks like it starts with 9) it should be a J5 stamped on the bottom of the safety lug. Also, from Brophy's book The Springfield1903 Rifles, the lowest serial numbered rifle observed with the "swept" bolt handle was 1,137,255  dated 6-18. Hope this helps.

 

                                                                                                                                             Steve

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ClaptonIsGod

Yeah, it’s a 9XX,XXX receiver. Cool that it’s that early, I’m not trying to get everything right to how the rifle would’ve been in 1918, just a realistic representation of how it might’ve been in the black and white picture circa 1941 - so while an A3 bolt like my original one is too late, this one theoretically could’ve found its way into a mismatched rifle come 1941. It almost looks like a straight handle on my grandfather’s 1903, so I think this should work nicely provided it’s safe to use. I can’t remember if the early heat treating issues applied just to the receiver, or potentially bolts as well. Looks like it might also include bolts, but it looks pretty good to me - hope I didn’t just throw away $25.

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1 hour ago, ClaptonIsGod said:

Yeah, it’s a 9XX,XXX receiver. Cool that it’s that early, I’m not trying to get everything right to how the rifle would’ve been in 1918, just a realistic representation of how it might’ve been in the black and white picture circa 1941 - so while an A3 bolt like my original one is too late, this one theoretically could’ve found its way into a mismatched rifle come 1941. It almost looks like a straight handle on my grandfather’s 1903, so I think this should work nicely provided it’s safe to use. I can’t remember if the early heat treating issues applied just to the receiver, or potentially bolts as well. Looks like it might also include bolts, but it looks pretty good to me - hope I didn’t just throw away $25.

 

     When you say "safe to use", do you mean shoot it?  If you are going to shoot it you definitely need to check the headspace with that bolt before you ever shoot it.  Excess headspace can  be a very dangerous condition on any rifle. Please have it checked.  Thanks,

 

                                                                                                                   Steve

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ClaptonIsGod

Final assembly will be by a gunsmith, so all that will get done. I meant more is it safe to shoot, in the vein of early receivers pre-1918 being unsafe - bolts too? Also, here’s how my rifle sits today, thanks to a bunch of parts sourced from a member here. Barrel order is in with the CMP, and I removed the 90 year old protective tape and goo off the upper handguard. Once I get a barrel sleeve and rear sight, just have to oil my stock and take everything to a gunsmith and should be good to go. The safety, magazine, etc. will need to be fine-tuned, but not my problem.EF3EF0DE-0CF9-48E5-AF01-07226C903C34.jpeg.7bdbf05f6b536bae6992777eb2fe0a98.jpeg8D9864C6-3D2F-4CF9-AE67-243DA6DAA144.jpeg.1cd09444591a0429614ab4e94a6955ec.jpeg

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Nice! Getting it all "correct" to what you want.

 

Did you get a barrel yet?

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Just now saw that you did get a barrel ordered. It's looking good.

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M1Garandy
9 hours ago, ClaptonIsGod said:

I did some reflecting, and decided my CC bolt really doesn’t run smoothly from what I can tell, and since it’s wrong for the era and not Springfield, I might as will pick up this Springfield bolt for $25 and swap it in. Rounded lug hopefully puts me pre-war and correct for 1941, any significance to the 1232 on the handle?

E4C4B150-C9D2-4659-87C9-E489A8972C2C.jpeg.d3ea08d02cbe50a6478cb56e74075e2c.jpegCF71BBA4-6A26-49F8-8800-3218BDE00FCA.jpeg.414416e85e3446a4fd7569f3ab80017a.jpegBFC430CC-9D78-4316-A57F-E2EF78CDAAD5.jpeg.b7c104f3c24bbc0cb7074685e37208fb.jpeg

More than likely, that bolt came out of a rifle that saw Greek service. They numbered their bolts in that spot and in that manner.

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