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Old 06-29-2020, 03:19 PM
ItsGarand ItsGarand is offline
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Location: Annapolis, Maryland
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Default How to fit a new 1903 stock?


Some time ago, I purchased a sporterized Remington1903. I went about bringing it back to milspec and also had a new criterion barrel put on. It looks fantastic.

The last thing I did was order a new C-Type stock from the CMP and put it on the rifle. I would have to say, that it is probably not fitted correctly. When the rifle starts to get hot, like 20 rounds in, the point of impact drifts down and to the left 2+ MOA and also throws some fliers. The upper band is a little loose, but I don't really know how tight/lose that is supposed to be


So, if you have any pointers on how to make sure the action is properly fitted in the stock, I'm all eyes.

“If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace” - Thomas Paine

Last edited by ItsGarand; 06-29-2020 at 03:51 PM.
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Old 06-29-2020, 04:03 PM
Garandguy42 Garandguy42 is offline
Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 20

Don't shoot it anymore until you make sure it's properly inletted or you will wreck the stock.

You need to coat the reciever with something that will transfer rub points such as inletting black or even lipstick. This will show you where the stock is in contact with the reciever when reinstalled.

It should contact on the reciever lug, the bottom of the rear tang, and the last few inches of the barrel on the raised portion. The action can also lightly contact on the side radiuses and the sight base if it's a 1903.

You want to make sure that there is clearance behind the tang and that the action is drawn down all the way or you can crack the stock. The stock screws should also be checked because they most likely need to be tightened.

Go slow if you need to remove material! You can always sand a bit more off the stock, but once it's gone it's gone.

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Old 06-29-2020, 06:08 PM
navyrifleman navyrifleman is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 733

Brownells sells a stockmaker's set of tools which includes files and rasps which can be used to remove wood in the stock after you have identified points of contact.

One test that I do is to place the barrelled action into the stock, tighten the guard screws, and then slide a dollar bill under the barrel, working it back and forth as I slide it from muzzle end toward the receiver. When it stops, you have found a place where you have contact between the barrel and the stock.

As stated above, go slowly and carefully when inletting.
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Old 06-29-2020, 07:15 PM
Shomway Shomway is online now
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Look at the red marked/arrowed area's that will indicate places that need to be looked at for contact with the B/R and may need to be relieved....
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Old 06-29-2020, 08:23 PM
ItsGarand ItsGarand is offline
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Thanks guys. Good places to start.
“If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace” - Thomas Paine
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Old 06-30-2020, 06:30 AM
pickax pickax is offline
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Daytona Beach Fla.
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All you need to know, courtesy of Bob S

1903 bedding by Bob S.
The biggest single thing the average 03 owner can do to improve his rifle’s grouping ability, is the bedding. First do the simple things first, check the stock over very closely, look for splits or cracks, especially in the tang or forend.

Correct bedding of the M1903 makes a big difference in how a 03 groups. For CMP matches, the use of the epoxy bedding compounds is not allowed. However, checks can be of the bedding and if needed, corrections made. The wood in your stock changes, stocks are changed from one rifle to another or new stocks are installed without being correctly bedded. All of this can lead to a rifle that needs to be re-bedded. The guard screws should be uniformly tighten, with the front snug down first, if you use a torque wrench, set both the same, somewhere between 55 and 65 in lbs. If you still get flyers, loosen the rear guard screw a little at a time and see if that helps. When the rifle is tighten into the stock there should be a small (1/32” to 1/16”) gap between the top of the magazine and bottom of the receiver.

M1903s usually are bedded so that the flat to the rear of the recoil lug and the rear of the tang are uniformly bedded in the stock and the barrel does not touch the stock EXCEPT at the fore end. There, the barrel bedding surface should be about 1” long and contact approx. the bottom 1/3 circumference of the barrel. You can test this by placing some type of marking paste on the receiver flat and tang of the receiver and then installing the barreled receiver into the stock with the guard screws. Since no epoxy is to be used, the rear guard screw bushing must be in place. The ends of this bushing should be flush or very slightly below the surface of the wood. Traditionally the paste has been Prussian Blue, but lipstick can be used, (some people ask first, some don’t, your choice). While the barreled action is in the stock, use a feeler gage to see if and where the barrel is touching. If the barrel is bottoming out on the stock when the barreled action is tightened into the stock, it will not do you any good to try and correct receiver bedding problems until this contact is cleared. You can make half round stock scrapers, or order them from Brownells. After the receiver is correctly bedded go back to the barrel with your feeler gage, make sure the barrel is not touching except uniformly at the forend. You can make this contact by reducing the flat to the rear of the recoil lug and the rear tang seat. The flared part of the tang should not touch the wood. The contact point between the barrel and forend can be made completely and/or adjusted with a shim.

It should take 5 to 10lb. to pull the forend out of contact with the barrel. Test fire, and see what happens. Do the initial test firing without the hand guard in place.

Exceptions, some 03s prefer to have their barrels free floating, I found the easiest way to find out, is to go ahead and bed for forend pressure, then place a 0.02” to .03” shim under the receiver flat, this will raise the barrel out of contact with the forend. Then test fire one more, see which way gives the best results. Or make all forend contact with a shim and then remove it, to test how the free floating barrel works.

The rear vertical surfaces of the tang must not touch the stock. This is not a recoil transfer point. If the rear surfaces do touch, recoil forces will use the tang as a wedge and cause splitting of the wood at the wrist. Likewise the rear guard screw should not touch the bushing where it passes through it.

Now for the hand guard, you could just install the hand guard, and test fire the rifle, if no change, you are good to go. OR you can use the Prussian Blue/lipstick method. Install the barreled action into the stock, without barrel ring or bands, paste on barrel, then align hand guard on stock, move hand guard back and forth slightly, 1/16th inch or so, then check for paste on wood, red really does shows up better. Hand guard should be lightly held by bands, the front band should not touch the barrel. You can use the half round stock scrapers,
The guard screws should be uniformly tighten, with the front snug down first, if you use a torque wrench, set both the same,, somewhere between 55 and 65 in lbs. If you still get flyers, loosen the rear guard screw a little at a time and see if that helps.
When the barreled action is tightened into the stock there should be a 1/32” to 1/16” uniform gap between the bottom of the receiver and the top of the magazine.
Now for some bad news, some barrels will not ‘shoot’ until they have become fouled or warmed up a bit, no matter what you do.

The barrel must bear on the stock at the fore-end tip, called the "barrel bed" in the tech manual (it's called that for a reason). The term "float" is not used correctly in this tech manual, nor is it used correctly in the K31 manual, either. The term "float" in the tech manual is used to mean that the barrel is not "trapped", or clamped tightly between any two surfaces (like the stock and upper band, or stock and handguard).

On the 03A3, the stock should not touch the barrel between the receiver and the barrel bed of the stock, where it should bear evenly upward. This is not "free floating", it is pressure bedding. For service rifles, the "up" force to displace the barrel from the bed should be about 4 lbs. (see para 45.a(2)(d) in the tech manual). The barrel guard ring should be clearanced from the stock so you can wiggle it when the receiver is tightened into the stock: it should not be clamped tightly between the receiver ring and the stock.

For the M1903, the fixed base of the '03 rear sight may bear lightly in its mortise in the stock, as long as the pressure at the receiver flat (behind the recoil lug) bears hard, and the up pressure is present at the barrel bed.

For National Match rifles, the "up" force to displace the barrel from its bed was specified as 7-9 lbs. In 40+ years of building up Poor Man's Match rifles with 03's and 03A3's, I've found that even more pressure at the barrel bed ~on the order of 15 lbs~ is usually beneficial. In that time I've found only a handful of issue barrels that would group better if truly "free floated", and If I recall correctly, they were all pre-war barrels. The WW II contract barrels really need that damping.

It's really important that the barrel is not "trapped" at the forend: you do need to be able to push the barrel clear of the barrel bed with the rifle assembled. It can't be "clamped" by the upper band or the handguard tennon. There has to be visible clearance between the top of the barrel and these parts. It doesn't need to be a bunch; about .025" is OK. If you can't push the barrel up about that much, then relieving some material from the upper band and/or handguard tennon with a Foredom tool (or Dremel) is indicated. It is usually counter-productive to remove wood from the barrel bed of the stock to get this clearance, as you lose the needed pressure on the barrel here.

In the days before "CMP rules", we used to remove the metal handguard clips so they wouldn't bear on the barrel, but that's a non-starter for "as-issued" rules.

For an 03A3, substitution of a milled trigger guard for the stamped one is beneficial; I don't know how CMP would feel about that. (I see photographs of rifles on the line at Perry with FLAGRANT violations of "as-issued" conditions, and nobody seems to get upset about it, though). Lacking a milled guard, I recommend getting a stamped guard with a "pad" welded in it if yours does not already have one ... it is little flat surface just aft of the forward screw hole that gives some real bedding surface so the side rails of the stamped guard don't just cut into the wood when the bedding screws are tightened. When we were poor undergraduate students in the 60's, we used a solid block of steel or even aluminum glued in to perform the same function. It makes a world of difference. Of course you can't glue a block in and pass "as-issued", but you can buy the as-issued stamped guards with the welded-in pad from Bill Ricca.

Some of this I learned in the School of Hard Knocks, some I got from Roy Dunlap. With one of my first 03A3's tuned as above (no glass bedding), but with a milled guard, "C" stock and Lyman 48 rear sight, I made Master in my first "serious" season (1973) after I got out of the Navy the first time, so it does work. When test firing use the same type and lot of ammunition, Greek M2 would probably be best.

TM 9-1270 has instructions for bedding the M1903 rifle in its stock. This TM calls for the barrel to be free floating, that is: not touching the stock at all. However I find most 03s shoot better when the tip of the forend exerts a slight upward pressure on the barrel. . However there is a downside of this type of bedding, if the stock should warp, it will affect the grouping ability of the rifle, and most likely its zero. And,, since this is not the type of bedding called for in the TM, it may not be legal in CMP matches.

Of course mechanical things should be checked. Muzzle wear is one of the biggest deterrence to good grouping. The famous M2 Bullet Check or one of the gages would help here. Throat erosion is another problem, although, not as much a muzzle wear. TE can be checked with a gage. But a very good estimation can be made by eye, by using one of the little reflectors, especially if you have a new barrel for comparison the first time or two. Bolt lug contact can also affect grouping. This can be checked by putting ’magic marker’ on the rear of the lug surfaces, and while pushing against the bolt face with a cleaning rod, open and close the stripped bolt 2 or 3 times. Note: where the marker has been rubbed away. One lug bearing little or not at all usually will cause the rifle to string its group in the vertical.
But, other than a trip to a gunsmith, there is very little the average 03 shooter can do about these mechanical problems.
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Old 06-30-2020, 07:36 AM
ceresco ceresco is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 7,756

One thing I could add is that the reinforcing crossbolts are often not tight on new stocks. Make the special screwdriver and be sure they are tight enough to do some good. Also, Bob had not seen the strange inletting on some of the commercial stocks. Look particularly at the area behind the recoil lug and take appropriate action if needed. Good Shooting. ...
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Old 06-30-2020, 08:56 AM
Quarterbore Quarterbore is online now
Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: Phoenixville, PA
Posts: 581

Great thread! Thank you all. I need to do a 1903a3 from CMP Wood as well as swapping a GI 1903 stock and I have put it off for fear that I make a mistake. I always prefer caution over jumping in especially for a match rifle build.
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Old 06-30-2020, 10:20 AM
S99VG S99VG is offline
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Northern California
Posts: 2,240

It sounds like you are having stock contact with the barrel. I would assemble the gun without the hand guard in place and then see if you can run a slip of paper under the barrel from muzzle to the sight collar. Do this like you were running a boot strap under the barrel. Anywhere the slip of paper stops you have stock contact with the barrel. This will cause stringing like you described. The contact or high points will need to be lowered so they will not be putting pressure on your barrel when things heat up. If you are stringing to the left the odds are you have a contact point on the right side of the barrel channel. Best of luck.

However, do keep in mind that some 03s prefer upward pressure at the muzzle as stated above. So I would be cautious in removing wood at that point.

Last edited by S99VG; 06-30-2020 at 10:22 AM.
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