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  1. #1
    Senior Member boomer656's Avatar
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    Early Rock Island 1903

    I came into possession of this rifle a little while back, and now that I've gone through it I'd like to get the comments and thoughts of the experts.

    I would like to point out that I've done nothing to this rifle other than a light surface cleaning and oiling as I took it apart and checked it out. It clearly has been well cared for by its previous owners. Sadly, at some point, the stock was cleaned 'vigorously' enough to remove much of the cartouche. By looking at the cartouche at various angles, I'm fairly certain it is a Conrad Nelson, but the seeing the date is beyond my abilities.



    I will be posting more photo's in a little while. Please let me know if there is a specific photo or close up you would like to see.
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    Senior Member boomer656's Avatar
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    Four digits! Super cool. A real survivor, for sure.

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    Senior Member boomer656's Avatar
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    Here's what I think I know about this rifle - from reading (and reading between the lines) the CS Ferris book 'Rock Island Rifle Model 1903'. ..... and this is where I hope the experts will come in and correct me.

    The receiver and rifle were both made in 1905 for use with the .30-'03 cartridge. The barrel was originally configured for use as a rod bayonet barrel. Sometime, in the period between 1906 and 1908, the barrel was shortened .2", given a new front and rear sight, all as part of the modification for the 30-06 cartridge.

    The stock is not an altered rod bayonet stock. It has been shortened by .2", so it was made after the decision to replace the rod bayonet and prior to the decision to use the 30-06 cartridge.

    At some point, probably in the 06 to 08 time frame, the barrel, receiver and stock came together. The cartouche date may have helped in knowing the year that happened.


    If this timeline is basically correct, I am left with two things I can't explain

    - The rifle has what appears to be two proof marks? Is it likely the person applying the proof mark hit it twice? Is it possible the stock was originally a completed 03-03 rifle that was proofed, and then proofed again as a 30-06.

    - The butt of the stock has a slot routed into the upper recess to accommodate a kit not approved until 1910. The timing for that work would seem to throw a wrench into the supposed time frame this rifle was assembled.


    For whatever it's worth, this rifle does not appear to have been used 'hard'. Obviously it was made long before the heat treatment issue was identified. Although I didn't include a close up - there is no 'Hatcher hole'.


    I also have a question on the bolt, and whether or not it is correct for the rifle. I'm asking not because I suspect it isn't correct, but because I don't have the knowledge to know if it is correct.
    Last edited by boomer656; 11-07-2018 at 10:33 AM. Reason: added 'of the'

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    Really Senior Member Daan Kemp's Avatar
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    Guys, please educate me: what is a butt stock? Is it the same as the butt of the rifle's stock, the rear most part? Why do we talk of a butt stock then?

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    Senior Member boomer656's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daan Kemp View Post
    Guys, please educate me: what is a butt stock? Is it the same as the butt of the rifle's stock, the rear most part? Why do we talk of a butt stock then?
    Corrected. In my case it is a bad habit learned from my father when I was very young. I find myself still using that 'phrase' but usually catch it when 'proofing' my text. Thank you for pointing it out and bringing back the good memories.

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    Thank you, thought I was missing something, somewhere.

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    Early Rock Island 1903 rifles

    Some years ago, I also found a early Rock Island, not as early as your sn 8485, but from around early 1907. My serial number is 64145 and barrel is RIA 3-07. Rear sight is also open bottom but never relocated. My rear sight leaf is without the rib on top and the slide is square on the left side which is a very early variation. My stock also has the single bolt and cartouche is very faint too. Handguard also has the groove like yours but without the clips.

    I would say you have a very early Rock Island and quite rare with that barrel.

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