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Thread: Low Number Debate from the Eye of Ordnance Chief

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  1. #11
    Member Smokeeaterpilot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowman1510 View Post
    This gave me a good giggle actually!

    I got another one, I'll post next week. Gave me a giggle. springfield armory coudldnt answer a M1903A3 question so they referenced a collector book in 1960.

    More to follow.

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  3. #12
    Really Senior Member tr63's Avatar
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    Very good information to confirm what was told to by a retired marine armory in the 1960"s that he made up low numbered receivers with new barrels in 1941 to 1944 period at the Philadelphia Navy Yard making up 1903 snipers . I know that the experts say this could not be the case ,but he was there . I spoke to him and he did not seem to be a con artist of course I was 20 years old at the time .
    Last edited by tr63; 11-11-2018 at 01:30 PM.

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  5. #13
    Really Senior Member cplstevennorton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tr63 View Post
    Very good information to confirm what was told to by a retired marine armory in the 1960"s that he made up low numbered receivers with new barrels in 1941 to 1944 period at the Philadelphia Navy Yard making up 1903 snipers . I know that the experts say this could not be the case ,but he was there . I spoke to him and he did not seem to be a con artist of course I was 20 years old at the time .
    My initial thinking is, he's not lying. I just think he's not talking about the Unertl, and talking about the older A5. Which even the Marines Corps declared during the war there was a huge problem as both sniper platforms are constantly confused with each other during the war.

    What most people dont' know the Marines did assemble Winchester A5 snipers in 1941, and maybe even into 1942. They for sure assembled 80 of these.

    The documents say these were standard rifles and not team rifles, like the Unertls. The Marines at this time had a good number of A5 drilled receivers in storage at Philly Depot. These would have been low number receivers who the barrel had become unserviceable after WWI, the barrel pulled, and receiver put into storage. So reading your comment, I almost think he might have been talking about building those A5's. Which from your descrption could be dead on accurate to the A5 program.

    They very well could have pulled those low number receivers out of storage, that were already drilled, screwed on a new barrel, drilled the barrel, and fitted it to a stock. That could explain what he was thinking.

    Forty A5's were used by the 1st and 2nd Division as training rifles at the start of WWII, and some were used in combat on Guadalcanal. The Marine Raiders also received 40 in about 1942.

    The A5's also were used in Sniper training in 1943 and it's possible that they made more past the initial 80 for sniper school. Because there is no mention of where those rifles came from. But it looks like about at least 20 were at each school and there were 2 schools.

    I think he is 100% telling the truth. I just think he was talking about the older A5 snipers.

    All the documents on the Unertl say there were all team rifles, either NM or rebarreled NM rifles. Which a rebarreled NM rifle can be mistaken as a normal rifle as well, if you didn't know to look for the polished rails.

  6. #14
    Really Senior Member tr63's Avatar
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    I was in a gun shop in Milltown N.J. where I saw a 1903 low serial numbered Unertl scoped rifle . I asked the shop owner if it was correct with a low number and not a national match ? He said it was a consignment and did not know much about it , but the owner lived in the area and would give him a call . The owner was very nice and being a Saturday said he would come to the shop if I was interested in making a deal . That's when he told me he enlisted in the Marines in 1931 and was stationed at the Philadelphia Navel Yard . He retired in 1953 . He than was able to get employment at the Raritan Arsenal New Jersey at which they recovered 1903 Unertl sniper rifles to be destroyed . He was able to obtain a complete rifle with scope and the green micarta carrying can for the scope . He related to me that he had built a number of the rifles by using low serial number 1903 receivers while at the Navel Yard as there was written authorization allowing it. We agreed to the purchase price of $250.00 .
    Last edited by tr63; 11-11-2018 at 03:57 PM.

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  8. #15
    Contributing Member rcathey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tr63 View Post
    We agreed to the purchase price of $250.00 .
    I’ll take five!

  9. #16
    Really Senior Member cplstevennorton's Avatar
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    You are mentioning two things it took me a long time to trace, the connection with Rariton and then there is a connection with Letterkenny. This is sort of interesting to hear you say this stuff because no one knows about it, and I'm sure if you had told others before they had wouldn't have listened.

    But there is a twist that makes sense in this all that much more. Just because it's a low number A5 sniper doesn't mean it could not mount a Unertl scope. In fact the WWI Marine A5 sniper rifle most commonly used in WWI is almost identical to the Unertl sniper of WWII.

    See the whole confusion on the USMC A5 is that all these authors have only traced the Mann Niedner snipers. Which had a taper block and could never mount a Unertl scope. But the Mann Niedner was only one variation used in the war. No one has ever documented in a book that WRA also produced their own version which was nicknamed a "Marine Mount" A5. That Marine mount A5 sniper produced by WRA in WWI, is almost identical to the Unertl sniper of WWII. Some have incorrectly assumed WRA did the Mann Niedner but that is not the case at all.

    The blocks that John Unertl provided to the Marines in WWII for the Unertl scopes are almost identical to the ones produced by WRA in WWI called the Springfield Marine, or Marine Mount for short.

    You can literally take a WWI A5 USMC rifle and a WWII Unertl WWII rifle and put them side by side and they very close to identical. Except for a little different placement on the receiver, and different styles of the cut handguard, they are interchangeable.

    I can honestly take a WWI WRA USMC A5 sniper from WWI, remove the blocks, and put on Unertl blocks from WWII on the rifle. Same spacing, same everything.

    I would be very curious to hear about your rifle. Depending on the serial range you might have a Marine mount A5 rifle form WWI.

    The other option is the MArines and well the Army too never stopped experimenting on rifles in between the wars, there are countless different ones that we have documented in the National Archives that have never been in a book.

    I would be very, very curious to hear more on your rifle. The WRA WWI USMC snipers are something I spent years studying in great detail.

    Both the Marines and Army had these rifles during the war. The Marines had 500, and the Army had 900.

  10. #17
    Really Senior Member cplstevennorton's Avatar
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    The stripped A5 receivers in the inventory of Philly depot at the start of WWII were probably a mix of at least three different versions of the A5. Niedner himself mounted 150 in 1917. Winchester mounted 500 in 1917, and the the MArines started to produce their own taper block Marine Corps style in 1918.

    But yeah he could have easily taken a low number receiver drilled by WRA in 1917, and put on a barrel. The Unertl O block that went on the receiver, mounts to the exact same holes drilled by WRA in 1917 for their MArine mount. So that just leaves drilling and tapping the new barrel for the E block and you have basically a standard rifle that is now a Unertl sniper.

    I've seen a lot of evidence of Raritan using leftover USMC team parts in builds. In fact I've talked about it some on milsurps before.

    Does your's have a star on the barrel right under the barrel date? If it does this will fascinate me even that much more! lol

    But regardless I will be very interested to hear more about and see your rifle.

  11. #18
    Really Senior Member cplstevennorton's Avatar
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    Also does your rifle have the last four of the serial stamped on the pistol grip and handguard?


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