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Thread: 03A3 national match

  1. #11
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    A Match 03A3
    Springfield Armory tried to build a Match Grade 03A3 and it did not work out too well. I built a match Grade 03A3 like the armory should have built.
    When 03A3’s were selling for $14.50 listed as UNCLASSIFED I received a pristine Smith-Corona with a four groove SC barrel (dated o0-43) in what looked like new condition. The bolt was rough and the action was rough in accordance with what one could expect for the late 03A3’s. I needed a target rifle and no more NM M1903’s were available, thought I could not have afforded one if they had been. I decided to build my own.
    1. I replaced the bolt with a very smooth late SA bolt. These bolts were smoother than some of the rougher 03A3 bolts and were not as deeply y undercut as were most 03A3 bolts. They were also harder and polished up very nicely. It is marked “0 15” on top of the bolt handle and “P” over a punch mark over “SA” and had a contoured safety lug. I also replaced the trigger, sear and cocking piece with prewar SA assemblies which I adjusted for a clean 3 ½ pound pull with no creep. I elected not to convert the cocking piece to the headless variety as I had used one for years and saw no real advantage to it.
    2. I polished the rails for smooth action using an Arkansas stone. I did not try to remove all of the tool marks; only made it smooth. With the new bolt the action was as slick as a M1903.
    3. I replaced the rear sight with a Redfield long-slide Model 70 rear sight. This could be mounted on the right side of the receiver without interfering with the clip slots or the action of the bolt. The Redfield 70 was as good as the Olympic that the Army used; as neither had any method of removing backlash. With the 70 sight I put a coil spring over the elevation screw to eliminate the back lash. Something that could not be done with the Olympic sight. The Lyman 48 and the Redfield 70 were in common use on match rifles of the era. The long slide accommodated 1000 yard shooting.
    4. For the stock I used a replacement “TYPE C” by Keystone obtained through the DCM for $2.25. The late Keystone stocks were very generous in their inletting so that it was not possible to bed the rifle correctly in just the wood so I glass bedded it. It was not possible to get the forend in full military dress to bed correctly so I cut the stock forward of the lower band and glass bedded it so as to put about five pounds of pressure on the barrel at this point. Since the rifle could only be used in the NRA Match Rifle class, there was no reason to fight with the full length stock. On the outside the stock was overly generous in some places and scant in others. I bought a new checkered butt plate for a $1.00 and on the left it over hangs the stock and on the right the stock overhangs it. No the butt plate was not a repro.
    5. I replace the 03A3 trigger guard assembly with a M1903 TG assembly and a milled follower.
    6. Because I liked the sight picture with the M1, I replaced the front sight with a M1917 front sight.
    The rifle proved to be quite accurate- will consistent shoots MOA with good match grade ammo. I shot it across the course and at 1000 yards on occasion. I fired on several four man rifle teams and my 03A3 stuck right in with the M70’s. In the days after WWII the match rifle was limited to ten pounds in weight. After I converted to the M70 (when I could afford it) I used this rifle as a backup and a loaner.









    Some may doubt that glass bedding was available very early. I glass beded a rifle in 1957. The glass bedding compund was very dificult to work with and had a very rapid setting time, but it worked.
    I guess this makes me a full fledged "BUBBA".
    FWIW
    Last edited by Cosine26; 01-23-2012 at 01:19. Reason: To add pictures and coments

  2. #12

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    Cosine,although I prefer these rifles in their original form,I appreciate the work you put into yours to make it into a better shooter,very clean and professional work. I have an 03 Remington that is still in sporter form with a Lyman 48S,not as nice as yours,but nice enough to keep as is. It looks a lot like a Swedish CG63 that I have. Regards, Jim

  3. #13
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    My version of an 03A3 Poor Man's Match Rifle, circa 1968-70.



    Still own it. Still shoots Master class scores.

    Resp'y,
    Bob S.
    Attached Images
    Last edited by Bob S; 01-23-2012 at 09:11.
    Resp'y,
    Bob S.

    USN Distinguished Marksman No. O-067

  4. #14
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    Hi Bob,
    I have one just like that except built on a NS 03 action. I am on my third barrel. Kind of outclassed now. I never thought that the NS actions were too "sticky". Yours is a nice looking rifle. Even with a closet full of M70's I still like this 03 when I think of the many hous I have spent with it on the range.



    Upper rifle is on a NS 1903 with starguage barrel in a NM stock. Lyman 48 C sight. Actiion number does not agree with stock SN so rifle is assembled.
    Lower rifle started as a 1927 NS M1903. Rifle is glass bedded an a Keystone Type "C"stockand equipped with a Timney (early ) trigger and a long slide Lyman 48 C (post war)





    You can see the difference between the NM stock and the Keystone Stock


    Rifles are reversed in these pictures.



    Showing rear sight details.
    Last edited by Cosine26; 01-26-2012 at 02:12. Reason: Add Pictures

  5. #15
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    When the problems with the rear sights came to light the M1903A3 N.M. project was canceled. The special parts were removed and the rifles sent back to stock as 03A3s. Many were disposed of by sale through the DCM as 03A3s. So if your DCM 03a3 has extra holes in the left side rail it may have been one of the 200 or so scrapped 03A3 NM rifles. A drill rifle with a NM modified receiver was in the large group of drill rifle barreled receivers that SARCO obtained from the CMP. The late Randy Schwartz, of SARCO, restored the receiver to a like new NM type using all NOS parts and refinishing the receiver to the Remington olive drab color. The receiver was built into a complete NM type rifle. He used a polished NS '03 bolt, with '03 NM internal parts. Serial number of this restoration is (Rem) 3516453. It was on display in the SARCO retail store in Easton, PA. It was gone the last time I was there. (2011)
    Last edited by Tom in N.J.; 01-28-2012 at 02:05.

  6. #16

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    Hi Tom,would you mind sharing the source of your info as to the rifles being dismantled and sent to the DCM.The info I have isn't much,but it doesn't say anything about the sights being removed and the 03 parts being changed back to A3 ones,all I have found was that they were sent to Raritan and from there the DCM sold them. The rifle in question has the Redfield Olympic and a staked base and other indications that it could be a NM piece,it defiinitly is not the run of the mill "bubba" job,but without an actual paper trail it may be hard to prove. Jim
    Attached Images
    Last edited by jmm03; 01-29-2012 at 04:50. Reason: add pictures

  7. #17
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    Jan 2012
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    I just purchased a Remington 03A3 yesterday with a Redfield rear sight like the one shown, and a Lyman front site. I was thinking the rear of the receiver had to be modified to install the rear, and the front too high for a GI rear. Can anyone confirm that? I looked for any marks confirming it might be a NM, but couldn't readily find any, might they be under the stock somewhere? This rifle came from the collection of a HIGH POWER competitor, so I assume he would get the best he could find in the day.

  8. #18
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    ... pictures would be helpful.

    In the 1950's and 60's it was quite commonplace for competitors to mount Redfield Olympic/International sights on 03's and 03A3's. All of the mounting methods either block the clip seat, or put the rear sight too high for the issued front sight, or both. There is a way around this but it was not commonly used. I will have to take some pix to illustrate.

    Most shooters who went to the expense and trouble to mount a Redfield rear sight also mounted a globe sight on the front. The Lyman 17A XNA and XNB were about the same height as the issue sights, as they were designed for use with the Lyman 48 rear sight. Redfield offered a dovetail adaptor that fit the dovetail of the M1903 fixed front sight base and gave a longitudinal 3/8" dovetail to mount a detachable globe sight. One of the 60-series globe sights was the correct height for use with the Olympic/International rear sights. I used this set-up for several years. I ofter wondered about the 03A3 NM in this regard, as Brophy says they used the M1903 fixed base and moveable base, but with the 03A3 front sight blade (which would have needed to be altered to fit the M1903 moveable base). I wonder if the intent was to use the Redfield adapter and globe sight? Otherwise, why would they use the '03 front sight parts? They would have just made extra work for themselves and the front sight would still be too low for use with the Olympic rear as they had it mounted.


    Resp'y,
    Bob S.
    Resp'y,
    Bob S.

    USN Distinguished Marksman No. O-067

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cosine26 View Post
    Some may doubt that glass bedding was available very early. I glass beded a rifle in 1957. The glass bedding compund was very dificult to work with and had a very rapid setting time, but it worked.
    I guess this makes me a full fledged "BUBBA".
    FWIW
    In 1984, I picked up a "orange colored" one sheet fact sheet on the M1 Garand at Springfield Armory National Historic Site. It stated that the Marines were the first to use glass bedding on the Garand and they did so in 1957. Further, the fact sheet stated it was Micro-Bed that was used.

    Most every Marine Corps Rifle Team Equipment Repairman, MOS 2112, I knew on active duty went through the apprenticeship program no earlier than 1958, so I could not verify that with them.

    However, I DID verrify it with a retired GySgt who retired as a 2112 in 1971 or 72. I don't remember if I ever asked him when they started using glass bedding, but he verified the 1957 date of bedding the Garands as accurate and he told me they had glass bedded 03's before that. Heck, he still had a bunch of the old Micro-Bed kits and loved using the stuff. Personally, I did not like it as it was extremely difficult to keep the air holes out of the bedding surface and it dried pretty fast.

    When I started my OJT apprenticeship in 1973, we were still using the Fenwall glass bedding compound that you had to mix the flox seperately into the mix. I was VERY happy to see the end of that stuff when THE Marine Corps Rifle Team Armorers began using Bisonite in 1974.

  10. #20
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    jmm03,.. You are quite correct in that the NM M1903A3 rifles were sent on a round about route to Raritan Arsenal, in N.J. Some were sold as N.M. M1903A3s (per Brophy) through the D.C.M. Some were reviewed, stripped and re-stocked as M1903A3s ( from ex-worker at R.A.) A few of these wound-up being converted to Drill Rifles. It would be no problem restoring one to the original configuration. I have not seen a DCM sales form for a N.M. M1903A3, but they must exist. (1005 317 2478). Brophy shows a photo of a shipping carton, with an inspection date of 11/60 for S.C. rifle #3628302, marked National Match.

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