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  1. #1
    Member MIL rifle1's Avatar
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    NS marked bolts

    I have a 1903 bolt that is marked with NS , I'm assuming that stands for nickel steel. Are these bolts considered safe to shoot? It does not have a swept back bolt handle. Thanks.


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    Really Senior Member mark1's Avatar
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    Yes NS bolts are safe to shoot.

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    I assume it is marked NS on the safety lug and not the top of the bolt handle? If so, the bolt was made at Rock Island about 1919. As Mark I said, it is safe to use. It is fairly uncommon.
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    Really Senior Member Cosine26's Avatar
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    RIA NS Bolts

    Thoughts on Nickel Steel Bolts
    Rick the Librarianicon is a recognized expert on the RIA manufactured M1903’s so has a lot more knowledge on the subject than I do but here are some thoughts.

    According to Gen Hatcher and “vishooters” web page, RIA started using nickel steel for the manufacture of some receivers and bolts in August 1918, though the production of DHT carbon steel receivers and bolts was continued simultaneously. I do not know: (1) the ratio of DHT to NS receivers, (2) the ratio of DHT to NS bolts. Further I do not know the ratio of bolts to receivers – one-to-one? All NS parts are marked “NS” because the heat treatment for NS differs from that of DHT parts. According to “vishooters” web site the curved bolt handled was introduced at RIA in April 1919 so there should have been some straight handled RIA NS bolts – how many? Who knows? Another question comes to mind. During the assembly of rifles, were the two different type steel parts kept separate or used indiscriminately? Were NS bolts and receivers separated from DHT bolts and receivers during assembly? While the receiver is marked NS, the marking is on the face of the receiver and visible only if no barrel is installed. A NS receiver with a barrel installed is not identifiable visually.
    Beware of bogus “NS” bolts. In the 1960’s a now defunct gun parts supplier advertised NS bolts at a very reasonable price. I ordered three of them. Two tuned out to be easily recognizable DHT bolts (J5’s) and one was a Remington. They had all been marked NS on the top of the bolt handle. The “N” and the “S” were struck crudely and separately. I do not believe that Remington ever marked it’s bolts “NS”. (Comments from the experts requested, please). On the old Joustericon board, one contributor indicated that he was paid by this company to stamp a large number of bolts of various manufacturers with the notation “NS”.
    Many contributors indicate that there was never any problem with the SHT bolts, only the SHT receivers gave a problem. I have a very nice SHT bolt (with and “S” marking) and it works very nicely in a M1903 but I am reluctant to use it.
    “vishooters” web site had good information on how to identify the various SA/RIA bolts.
    Just some thoughts

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    Really Senior Member Kirk's Avatar
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    I was told at Camp Perry that the SHT bolts did occasionally fail, with one or both lugs shearing off. There was no mention of injury or even damage to the rifle. The safety lug prevented the bolt from leaving the receiver. Shooters were advised to bring a spare, headspaced bolt so if one failed, you would simply exchange bolts.

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    Answers to Thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosine26 View Post
    Thoughts on Nickel Steel Bolts
    Rick the Librarianicon is a recognized expert on the RIA manufactured M1903’s so has a lot more knowledge on the subject than I do but here are some thoughts.

    According to Gen Hatcher and “vishooters” web page, RIA started using nickel steel for the manufacture of some receivers and bolts in August 1918, though the production of DHT carbon steel receivers and bolts was continued simultaneously. I do not know: (1) the ratio of DHT to NS receivers, (2) the ratio of DHT to NS bolts. Further I do not know the ratio of bolts to receivers – one-to-one? All NS parts are marked “NS” because the heat treatment for NS differs from that of DHT parts. According to “vishooters” web site the curved bolt handled was introduced at RIA in April 1919 so there should have been some straight handled RIA NS bolts – how many? Who knows? Another question comes to mind. During the assembly of rifles, were the two different type steel parts kept separate or used indiscriminately? Were NS bolts and receivers separated from DHT bolts and receivers during assembly? While the receiver is marked NS, the marking is on the face of the receiver and visible only if no barrel is installed. A NS receiver with a barrel installed is not identifiable visually.
    Beware of bogus “NS” bolts. In the 1960’s a now defunct gun parts supplier advertised NS bolts at a very reasonable price. I ordered three of them. Two tuned out to be easily recognizable DHT bolts (J5’s) and one was a Remington. They had all been marked NS on the top of the bolt handle. The “N” and the “S” were struck crudely and separately. I do not believe that Remington ever marked it’s bolts “NS”. (Comments from the experts requested, please). On the old Joustericon board, one contributor indicated that he was paid by this company to stamp a large number of bolts of various manufacturers with the notation “NS”.
    Many contributors indicate that there was never any problem with the SHT bolts, only the SHT receivers gave a problem. I have a very nice SHT bolt (with and “S” marking) and it works very nicely in a M1903 but I am reluctant to use it.
    “vishooters” web site had good information on how to identify the various SA/RIA bolts.
    Just some thoughts
    (1) RIA is on record as having began using nickel steel at S/N 319xxx. But, my data base shows that nickel steel did not appear in any significant quantity until much later.

    (2) The ratio of RIA NS to DHT bolts is probably greater than 10:1 (i.e., 10 NS bolts for each DHT bolt).

    (3) The ratio of bolts to receivers is slightly greater than 1:1 because extra bolts were made as spare parts.

    (4) During rifle assembly, no effort was made to segregate DHT from NS parts.

    (5) You are correct. Remington did NOT mark their bolts "N S".

    (6) Springfield Armory is on record as having never pulled SHT bolts from service. They explicitly stated that SHT bolt failure rates were not sufficiently high to justify pulling them from service. Nevertheless, I do not recommend using an SHT bolt for shooting when strong WWII alloy steel bolts are readily available very inexpensively.

    Hope this helps.

    J.B.

  9. Thank You to John Beard For This Useful Post:


  10. #7
    Really Senior Member Cosine26's Avatar
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    NS bolts

    Thanks for the input.
    Why the high ratio of NS to DHT bolts?
    Last edited by Cosine26; 07-19-2009 at 10:06 PM. Reason: spelling

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    Senior Member tmark's Avatar
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    Maybe NS bolts were easier/faster to produce????????

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cosine26 View Post
    Thanks for the input.
    Why the high ratio of NS to DHT bolts?
    The high ratio of NS to DHT bolts probably had something to do with availability of steel.

    Receivers and bolts were made from two different sizes of steel bar stock. So, there was no relationship between receivers and bolts with respect to the steel bars they were made from. Some of Rock Island's steel also failed to pass chemical alloy tests in early 1918 and was rejected. Perhaps the rejected steel was that used for making bolts. The documents are not clear.

    In any event, RIA DHT bolts are downright scarce.

    J.B.

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    Really Senior Member Cosine26's Avatar
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    RIA Bolts

    Thanks for the info

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