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Thread: Low Number Debate from the Eye of Ordnance Chief

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    Member Smokeeaterpilot's Avatar
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    Low Number Debate from the Eye of Ordnance Chief

    Processing files for my online library for next month and these jumped out at me.


    The issue of the low number debate from the Admin Office of the Chief of Ordnance.

    Shows how "dramatic" the Office of Chief of Ordnance can be.
    The first imagine is from a 1931 report. "We need to prevent these rifles from being dangerous to anyone ever again. Not only we are taking them out of service, we're mutilating them in such a fashion where they can never harm anyone ever again."

    The second is from a report in 1944 on steel lots: "well as long as they're properly head spaced, they're safe with standard ammunition."

    Interesting to read through the files and how drastically their attitude changes.

    Please take into account some pretty significant variables....

    1931 - Depression Era, Congressional funding for the Office of Chief of Ordnance (which Springfield and Rock Island fell under).

    1944 - Massive World War raging in Europe and the Pacific.

    Just fun reading these old documents, and the National Archives always have a lot to read!

    Enjoy your week!




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    Really Senior Member RCS's Avatar
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    Question, when low numbered 1903 receivers were rebarreled with new barrels from the 1940's, was there a proof load fired ?

    Once in awhile you come across a high number 1903 in the 1,4 serial range with a very early barrel from WW1 or before which might indicate that the original receiver for that
    barrel might have been scrapped

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    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RCS View Post
    Once in awhile you come across a high number 1903 in the 1,4 serial range with a very early barrel from WW1 or before which might indicate that the original receiver for that
    barrel might have been scrapped
    Good point, and these guys then change them out as not correct...

    Quote Originally Posted by Smokeeaterpilot View Post
    Shows how "dramatic" the Office of Chief of Ordnance can be.
    Quote Originally Posted by Smokeeaterpilot View Post
    Interesting to read through the files and how drastically their attitude changes.
    I suspect this is just forgetting history that caused the change in attitude. Not being involved in the original debate will cause various officers to have a vastly different..."In my opinion"... So the rules change.
    Regards, Jim

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    Really Senior Member cplstevennorton's Avatar
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    I posted these in the CMPicon forum. But actually the Marines came to the same conclusion. They did limit low numbers firing rifle grenades, just as a precaution. But discontinued that as well by the end. They finally determined that low numbers were safe as long as they headspaced and could fire at least 2 proof rounds.

    They even started the additional safety of the Hatcher hole and enlarged gas hole in the bolt in late 1938.


    This is the Marine correspondence at the same time in 1931 as Andrew's above. I love the last line.




    That 100,000 PSI number is consistent throughout the Marine docs when they discuss at what PSI the average low number receiver cracked.

    This is the last statement by the MArines on the low numbers. They started to drill the Hatcher on all rebuilds a year before this. But after this doc, low numbers are never mentioned in the MArine docs again, nor are any failures documented past this that in there that I have seen.

    20 Sept 1939




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    Advisory Panel Lee Enfield's Avatar
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    I suspect the change to lighter 150grain m2 ball (lower standard pressure?) also had some bearing on the change in acceptance.??

    I guess i should have read cpl n's document before posting...

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    On low number parts on high number receivers, there seems to have been an U.S. Government exchange program for privately owned Springfields that replaced low number with high number receivers until they ran out of high number receivers - if one returned the low number receiver. Recall reading about this in the American Rifleman if memory serves.


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    Really Senior Member Snowman1510's Avatar
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    Smokeeater, don't you do research for C&Rsenal?


    Edit: I have a low digit receiver with a 1930s rebuild barrel on it. So this either didn't make it all the way around or the guys at rebuild just didn't care.
    Last edited by Snowman1510; 10-11-2018 at 11:50 PM.
    “There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by readin’. The few who learn by observation.
    The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” - Will Rogers

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    Thread Starter
    Quote Originally Posted by Snowman1510 View Post
    Smokeeater, don't you do research for C&Rsenal?


    Edit: I have a low digit receiver with a 1930s rebuild barrel on it. So this either didn't make it all the way around or the guys at rebuild just didn't care.
    Snowman1510 - Yeah I help those guys out when I can on U.S. stuff. They like primary documentation when available.

    They're so nice and give great shout outs. So I'm happy to assist when they ask or I can. Helping finish up a project now presently for them. I'm anxious to see it come out.


    Also, to everyone else. I found this yesterday. I laughed a bit out loud when I saw it.

    Now please consider the date on the document. The second world war was raging on so risk versus benefit analysis.


    But note it's Hatcher signing it. I dunno why I just thought it was funny considering how everyone chants Hatcher's Notebook about low numbers essentially being Russianicon Roulette with each pull of the trigger. Just caught me as a bit ironic his name popped up on this particular document.

    Enjoy your weekend all!


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    Yes, dated mid WW2...
    Regards, Jim

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    Really Senior Member Snowman1510's Avatar
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    This gave me a good giggle actually!

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