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Thread: Springfield 03A3 Rear Sight Removal and Replacement

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    Post Springfield 03A3 Rear Sight Removal and Replacement

    Springfield 03A3 Rear Sight Removal and Replacement

    by "Bob S"

    Note: After you click on images to ENLARGE them, you may find they automatically size smaller in your browser's window making them hard to read. The auto sizing is your browser's way of keeping images entirely within the screen size you have set. If this happens, you will see a small box in the bottom right hand corner of the pic with four arrows point outwards. Click this box and the pic will EXPAND and open up to its normal size, so you should now be able to read any text and make out small details.

    Depending on the maker and vintage of your rifle, you may or may not be able to get the old sight off without destroying it.

    Initially, the rear sight was intended to be retained by a set screw which was staked to prevent it from loosening. It was found quite early in production that the set screw alone was inadequate to keep the rear sight from moving with the rough handling experienced in military service. The dovetail on the receiver bridge was grooved, and the soft metal of the sight base was staked to upset it into the grooves of the dovetail to supplement the set screw. It appears that Remington in later production did away with the set screw entirely, and relied solely on heavy staking to retain the rear sight. It appears that Smith-Corona retained the set screw to the end of production, but also staked the rear sight base, albeit much more "daintily" than Remington.

    The first picture is of a very late Smith-Corona (4,75X,XXX) base, but would also be representative of an early Remington base:



    Note the set screw with stake marks (green arrow) and the single light punch mark (red arrow) used to stake the base to the dovetail.

    This one was very easy to remove and re-use. It takes some work and patience to move the set screw due to the staking, and you may need to judiciously employ a tiny grinding point on a Dremel tool to weaken the staking, but it will come out with a properly fitting screw driver once the staking is weakened enough. I put a piece of 3/4" steel plate between the "ears" of the base after removing the windage yoke, screw and knob. This prevented the "ears" from bending in while the base was drifted off the dovetail. The plate is shown as the red "block" in the following pic.



    (The line art that I have borrowed here is from the fourth edition of Clark Campbell's excellent book The 03 Springfield Rifles' Era, which belongs in your library if you are a collector, shooter or "student" of the 03A3)

    This next pic shows the removed base and the grooved dovetail base on this same rifle:



    The reason that I wanted to re-use this base is that I made up a target sight mount using a spare base from Numerich. I can easily remove the "issue" sight, and replace it with the "target sight" when I am not limited by the "as-issued" rules, and replace the issue rear sight for Vintage matches.





    The set screw on the issue sight base retains the issue sight satisfactorily since I don't slam the rifle around or do any bayonet fighting.

    The next pic shows the base of a November 1943 Remington rifle.



    Note that it is very heavily staked in two places, and there is no set screw at all. It is not likely that this base could be removed without destroying it. In replacing sights so heavily staked as this one, I have found that drilling out the stake marks as much as possible without hitting the receiver bridge dovetail weakens the metal of the base enough so that the base can be drifted off the receiver bridge without excessive force.

    When installing a replacement sight, I recommend that you retain the sight with Marine Tex or high strength LocTite rather than staking it. That way, if you need to remove it or adjust it in the future, you can do so without destroying it. If the replacement sight is a little loose on the dovetail, peen the female dovetail of the base slightly so it is snug, but can be drifted with light force. Set the windage on mechanical zero (MZ), and sight in on a calm day at 100 or 200 yards. Center your group by moving the whole sight on the dovetail. When you group is centered laterally mark the rear sight base to match the mark on the receiver. Then turn the rifle on its right side and dribble some LocTite on the joint between the receiver bridge dovetail and sight base. You could even use Super Glue. As long as you're not doing any bayonet fighting, this should be adequate to keep the sight from moving, and your no-wind zero will coincide with the MZ of the sight ... Much easier to remember, and gives you the max amount of adjustment on either side. ......... (Article provided by MILSURPS.COM member "Bob S")

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    Alternate method of 1903A3 rear sight removal

    As Bob S directs, if it has a screw, loosen it. Remove the stock & trigger & use a liberal amount of Liquid Wrench on the sight. On a flat, firm surface, (2x6, etc.) lay the barreled action, bolt open, on its right side. Take a 2 or 3 lb hammer and a brass or aluminium punch, at least .375" dia. Place the punch at the base of the sight, angling it so only the edge of the punch is along the very bottom of the sight (not on the wing). Strike the punch smartly with the hammer. It should take 1-3 blows to remove the sight. I've removed dozens of A3 sights this way so it works and most were done dry - no penetrating oil. The sights were not damaged. Just make sure your punch is along the very bottom edge of the sight & not bearing on the upright sight wing. They will bend if you are not careful.

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    I bought an 03A3 with the rear sight dovetail milled off. I couldn't imagine why anyone would want to do that. You guys have any idea? If it is a good project , I'll finish it. Otherwise I'll solder a new dovetail on.
    thanx
    Bill

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    Quote Originally Posted by Badger View Post
    Springfield 03A3 Rear Sight Removal and Replacement

    by "Bob S"

    Depending on the maker and vintage of your rifle, you may or may not be able to get the old sight off without destroying it.

    Initially, the rear sight was intended to be retained by a set screw which was staked to prevent it from loosening. It was found quite early in production that the set screw alone was inadequate to keep the rear sight from moving with the rough handling experienced in military service. The dovetail on the receiver bridge was grooved, and the soft metal of the sight base was staked to upset it into the grooves of the dovetail to supplement the set screw. It appears that Remington in later production did away with the set screw entirely, and relied solely on heavy staking to retain the rear sight. It appears that Smith-Corona retained the set screw to the end of production, but also staked the rear sight base, albeit much more "daintily" than Remington.

    (Article provided by MILSURPS.COM member "Bob S")
    One small correction. Like Remington, Smith-Corona also eliminated the rear sight set screw in later production.

    J.B.

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    Rear sight base pin and screw

    I am in need of a rear sight base pin and screw for my Remington manufactured (dated 3/43) M1903-A3 rifle. I have found the rear sight assemblies but cannot find just the pin and screw. Any help would be greatly appreciated.



    Thanks,
    Greg

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