• 1903A3 Springfield Rifle (Mfg by Smith Corona)

    Model 1903A3 Springfield (Caliber .30-06) Rifle
    (Mfg by Smith Corona in 1943)

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    Caliber: ....................... .30-06 Government
    Rifling & Twist: ............. 4 Groove, Right Hand Twist, 1 turn in 10"[/SIZE]
    Barrel Length: .............. 24"
    Overall Length: ............ 43.5"
    Weight: ....................... 8 lbs, 10oz.
    Magazine Capacity: ...... 5 rounds, loaded with chargers
    Total Qty Mfg: .............. 1,415,593 1903A3 and A4 rifles (Brophy)
    Qty Mfg: ...................... 236,831 made by Smith Corona (Brophy)

    Source: ....................... The Springfield 1903 Rifles by Lt. Col. William S. Brophy - ISBN: 9780811708722

    Model 1903A3 Springfield

    (46 picture virtual tour)
    Observations: (by "Claven2")
    Note: Pics of rifle provided courtesy of Milsurps.com moderator Claven2.

    During the early stages of the Second World War, many units of the US forces were still equipped with the venerable M1903 Springfield. The M1 Garand was resource intensive to manufacture and the older Springfields were heavily relied upon to supplement the M1 in service. Moreover, the number of serviceable M1903 rifles was seen as insufficient to fully meet demand for rifles and a number of other patterns of rifle saw limited service throughout the war - the most prolific of those being the M1917. To address the need for arms, much of the tooling and gauges from Rock Island Arsenal Springfield Arsenal were provided to Remington Arms to manufacture the M1903 rifle. Throughout the course of production, a number of manufacturing shortcuts were implemented resulting in the simplified Model 1903M where the M stood for modified. This model was even further simplified to take advantage of emerging mass production technologies with a heavy reliance on stamped and welded parts and was standardized as the M1903A3 service rifle. In 1943 the US government suspended all non-essential typewriter production in the United States, directing that industry to focus its manufacturing expertise on the war effort. The M1903A3 was eventually also placed into production with the Smith Corona Typewriter Company in partnership with High Standard who supplied the rifled barrels to Smith Corona in both 4 and 6 groove varieties. While Remington produced and used many 2 groove barrels, Smith Corona did not.

    The M1903A3 was characterized by a rear receiver-mounted aperture sight and its extensive use of mass-produced parts, especially stamped parts. The buttplate and buttplate trap were stamped instead of forged and machined. Field experience having showed the feature was rarely used, the trigger guard assembly was a stamped and welded unit without a removable floorplate. The follower, barrel bands, nosecap and front sight blade were also fabricated from stampings. Rather than being finely polished, the barrelled receiver was only finish machined and parkerized. The bolt body made use of undercuts behind the various protrusions to cut down on finishing file work as cosmetics were deemed a secondary concern. All the functional surfaces were give the same care as the earlier rifles and by all accounts, the M1903A3 functioned and fired as well as the prior M1903 rifles, but were less resource intensive to manufacture and faster to produce.

    With the exception of some pistol-gripped C-stocks, nearly all M1903A3's left the factory wearing walnut stocks with the same straight-grip profile as the earlier M1903 rifle. Ordnance had decided that the pistol-gripped C-stock was superior, but large quantities of stock blanks left over from WW1 were still on hand. It was decided to use these up before any mass introduction of C-stocks. For whatever reason, however, the C-stock was never implemented in any great numbers as part of new production of the M1903A3. During the war, however, a "scant" stock was devised. The Scant stock was the closest thing to a C-stock that could be machined from the left-over WW1 era blanks. While not a full C-stock, ordnance had the remaining blanks machined as scant stocks and used them as the standard replacement stock for issued rifles with worn or damaged furniture. Many of the refurbished rifles we see today will be equipped with a replacement scant stock. Few, if any, of the scant stocks were used in new production, though some were used on Remington made M1903A4 sniper rifles for a time. All stocks made after the introduction of the M1903A3 were machined for both the M1903 rear sight base, as well as for the M1903A3 rear handguard ring and could be fitted to either rifle. This was done to simplify logistics.

    One of the early M1903A3 shortcuts was to substitute the dual stock reinforcing bolts of the late production M1903 rifle with dual threaded brass reinforcing pins. After several months of production it was determined through experience in the field that the brass pins did not hold up as well as the dual bolt design, possibly due to the stress of firing rifle grenades. Production was shortly thereafter reverted to the dual bolt design. There has recently been a number of serviceable surplus stocks on the market bearing the older brass pins. It would be reasonable to surmise that these stocks were replaced with scant stocks during arsenal refurbishment for not other reason than to equip the rifles with a dual reinforcing bolt stock.

    When first issued, the M1903A3 would have been used with either a pre-WW2 M1905 bayonet with wooden grips, or a WW2 produced version of the M1905 with bakelite grips sometimes referred to as the M1942 bayonet. In February 1943, however, the M1 pattern bayonet was approved for service and became the standard issue bayonet for US forces. In addition to new production of the M1 bayonet, many of the 1905 pattern bayonets were subsequently shortened to the M1 pattern. As a result, the M1905 bayonets have become somewhat rare today and command a sizeable premium over the M1 blades.

    Collector's Comments and Feedback:

    1. By the time of the M1903A3's introduction into service, the older bolt action rifles were largely being relegated to second-line service as quickly as serviceable M1's became available as replacements. While 1903A3's likely saw some combat service with US forces, it is safe to assume it was on a much smaller scale then either the M1 or M1903. Many 1903A3's were used in the US to train troops departing for various theatres of operation, for naval service, and as aid to foreign allied troops. Many French soldiers, for example, would have received M1903A3 rifles, as did allied Chinese forces, Greek forces, etc. both during and after the war. Many more rifles remained unissued until surplussed in the USA or loaned to various veterans groups for ceremonial or target shooting purposes. Despite this, a majority of the M1903A3 rifles a collector is likely to encounter will have been through at least one arsenal refurbishment. Many of the unissued pieces sold through the NRA and DCM in the US subsequently were rebuilt as sporting rifles and are comparatively rare today. Specimens not bearing an import mark will, of course, command a premium............ (Feedback by "Claven2")

    2. The question of what the original parts and finish of a Remington 1903A3 comes up very often, as most 1903A3's were refinished during arsenal rebuild, reworked years later, or 'sporterized' in one way or another. The rifle displayed in the photo montage below displays an example of a 1903A3 with the original configuration and finish. I found it by chance at the first M1 carbine show in Alabama and John Beard gave it his seal of approval as unmolested. ........... (Feedback by "cafdfw")

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    Model 1903A3 Springfield (Smith Corona)

    (17 picture virtual tour)
    This article was originally published in forum thread: 1903A3 Springfield Rifle (Mfg by Smith Corona) started by Badger View original post
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. dmcollect41's Avatar
      Thank you for the nice article. I am just back to the board after a long hiatus. I have a Remington 1903A3 that is "out of the crate" new - though it bears an arsenal rebuild mark from Ogden. When I purchased this one - I had never seen one before but have seen a few since come up at auction. I have read in my research that large numbers of WWII arms were sent to Ogden right after the war - including anything that had not been issued - and that anything that went through received a stamp - whether it was rebuilt or not. Have you heard anything about this? Other than the "OG", this piece is nearly identical today as in 1943. Its so new, I rarely even operate the bolt. DM
    1. MIKIE VZ24's Avatar
      (THE SMITH CORONA 1903a3's)
      "The number of six-groove barrels used in Smith-Corona ’03A3 production is estimated to be about 5,000. After using up the six-groove barrel blanks, High Standard began manufacture of four-groove barrels, which were used for the balance of production except for a few two-groove barrels that were used for about a one- or two-month period in late 1943"

      In your article I see that SC only made 4 and 6 groove barrels. I have read (referenced above) that at the end of the production run they actually used 2 groove barrels. Mine has a SN of 473XXX0 their run ended at 4992000 according to the article. could you please help me identify its place in production (date wise). I assume it is a 4 groove, how can one tell?

      Thank you for this fine resource of information.
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