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  #1  
Old 07-24-2012, 11:14 AM
armyinfantry11b armyinfantry11b is offline
 
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Default What is considered a LOW number 1903?

Hello, In my ever growing attempt to show complete and utter ingorance, I offer t his, what is considered a low number, (unsafe to shoot) 1903 Springfield? I have a 06/42 03A3 that I would like to add a WW1 vintage 1903 to go with at some point in time. Thanks....HOOAH!!
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  #2  
Old 07-24-2012, 11:29 AM
FootSoldier FootSoldier is offline
 
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The following from the CMP Sales pages:

WARNING ON “LOW-NUMBER” SPRINGFIELDS
M1903 rifles made before February 1918 utilized receivers and bolts which were single heat-treated by a method that rendered some of them brittle and liable to fracture when fired, exposing the shooter to a risk of serious injury. It proved impossible to determine, without destructive testing, which receivers and bolts were so affected and therefore potentially dangerous.
To solve this problem, the Ordnance Department commenced double heat treatment of receivers and bolts. This was commenced at Springfield Armory at approximately serial number 800,000 and at Rock Island Arsenal at exactly serial number 285,507. All Springfields made after this change are commonly called “high number” rifles. Those Springfields made before this change are commonly called “low-number” rifles.
In view of the safety risk the Ordnance Department withdrew from active service all “low-number” Springfields. During WWII, however, the urgent need for rifles resulted in the rebuilding and reissuing of many “low-number” as well as “high-number” Springfields. The bolts from such rifles were often mixed during rebuilding, and did not necessarily remain with the original receiver.
Generally speaking, “low number” bolts can be distinguished from “high-number” bolts by the angle at which the bolt handle is bent down. All “low number” bolts have the bolt handle bent straight down, perpendicular to the axis of the bolt body. High number bolts have “swept-back” (or slightly rearward curved) bolt handles.
A few straight-bent bolts are of the double heat-treat type, but these are not easily identified, and until positively proved otherwise ANY straight-bent bolt should be assumed to be “low number”. All original swept-back bolts are definitely “high number”. In addition, any bolt marked “N.S.” (for nickel steel) can be safely regarded as “high number” if obtained directly from CMP (beware of re-marked fakes).
CMP DOES NOT RECOMMEND FIRING ANY SPRINGFIELD RIFLE WITH A ”LOW NUMBER” RECEIVER. Such rifles should be regarded as collector’s items, not “shooters”.
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  #3  
Old 07-24-2012, 11:35 AM
Milsurp Collector Milsurp Collector is offline
 
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For Springfield Armory it is serial number below around 800000. There is no definite precise number because some older single heat treated receivers were held back and ended up with serial numbers above 800000 (see below). For Rock Island Arsenal it is below 285507.



The change in heat treatment occurred near the end of World War I, so if you want a "WW1 vintage 1903" a low-number M1903 would be appropriate.

Last edited by Milsurp Collector; 07-24-2012 at 06:21 PM.
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  #4  
Old 07-24-2012, 12:06 PM
dave tengdin dave tengdin is offline
 
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Were all Krags and Trapdoors single heat treated receivers as well?

If so, wouldn't similar breech pressures in shooting low numbered 1903's (construction of the latch retaining mechanism in trap doors, and the single lug bolt in Krags not withstanding) yield a similar safety margin? If so, then considering the stronger lock-up of the double lug bolt in the 1903, wouldn't a low nombered 1903 be considered "safe to shoot" if the ammo was loaded to a lower pressure yield, similar to that of Krag and trapdoor pressures?

Does anyone know the heat treating process used in other more common milsurps, such as in Mosins, Mausers, and Enfields?

Last edited by dave tengdin; 07-24-2012 at 12:08 PM.
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  #5  
Old 07-24-2012, 12:17 PM
JimF JimF is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave tengdin View Post

. . . . .If so, wouldn't similar breech pressures in shooting low numbered 1903's (construction of the latch retaining mechanism in trap doors, and the single lug bolt in Krags not withstanding) yield a similar safety margin? If so, then considering the stronger lock-up of the double lug bolt in the 1903, wouldn't a low nombered 1903 be considered "safe to shoot" if the ammo was loaded to a lower pressure yield, similar to that of Krag and trapdoor pressures? . . . .
You've hit the nail on the head as far as I'm concerned . . . .

I use that very same logic in loading for my "unsafe" low-numbered '03!

The load I use is down near the Krag pressure, so I use it! (And it proved to be an accurate load to boot!)

OK, guys . . . . I'm wearing my fire-resistant suit!!! --Jim
__________________
--Jim
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  #6  
Old 07-24-2012, 12:25 PM
Milsurp Collector Milsurp Collector is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave tengdin View Post
Were all Krags and Trapdoors single heat treated receivers as well?

If so, wouldn't similar breech pressures in shooting low numbered 1903's (construction of the latch retaining mechanism in trap doors, and the single lug bolt in Krags not withstanding) yield a similar safety margin? If so, then considering the stronger lock-up of the double lug bolt in the 1903, wouldn't a low nombered 1903 be considered "safe to shoot" if the ammo was loaded to a lower pressure yield, similar to that of Krag and trapdoor pressures?

Does anyone know the heat treating process used in other more common milsurps, such as in Mosins, Mausers, and Enfields?
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimF View Post
You've hit the nail on the head as far as I'm concerned . . . .

I use that very same logic in loading for my "unsafe" low-numbered '03!

The load I use is down near the Krag pressure, so I use it! (And it proved to be an accurate load to boot!)

OK, guys . . . . I'm wearing my fire-resistant suit!!! --Jim
The M1903 and the Krag have different cartridge and chamber designs. The Krag's design is less likely to have a brass failure than the M1903's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Milsurp Collector View Post
Comparing the Krag, with its rimmed case that is completely supported by the chamber, to the M1903, with its rimless case and chamber design that leaves some of the case head exposed, is comparing apples to oranges.

According to Hatcher (Hatcher's Notebook, Chapter VIII, pp.205-206):

Quote:
One thing made evident by these tests is the fact that the weakest feature of most modern military actions is the cartridge case itself. In the Springfield rifle the head of the cartridge case projects out of the rear end of the chamber a distance of from .147 to .1485 inch; in other words, there is a space of well over an eighth of an inch where the pressure is held only by the brass. This is the weak point of the M 1903 Springfield, the M 1917 Enfield, the M 98 Mauser, and other high powered rifles using rimless cartridges.

When very high pressures are encountered, the brass wall either spreads or blows out, and the gas under high pressure gets loose and wrecks things. If the receiver is weak or brittle, it may be fractured; if it is strong, then the extractor may be blown off, the magazine well may be bulged, the stock may be splintered, and other damage may be done.

In the design of the U.S. Rifle Cal. 30, M1, Mr. Garand took great pains to eliminate this source of weakness by arranging the rear end of the chamber and the front end of the bolt so that the metal of the cartridge case is surrounded right down to the extractor groove by the chamber walls.

The Krag, which uses a rimmed case, does not have this weakness. The case enters the chamber right up to the rim, and there is little chance for the cartridge to fail at the head. That is the main reason why we never, or at least hardly ever, hear of a burst Krag receiver.
The problem with low number M1903s is the combination of the chamber design and a receiver in some that is brittle and weak. If the brass doesn't fail then there is no problem. That's why people are able to get away with shooting low number M903s even if the receiver is defective. But if you have a brass failure there is no safety margin. The receiver will most likely shatter because it is weak and brittle. So you are relying on the strength of that .147 to .1485 inch of unsupported brass at the case head.

If people are going to shoot low number M1903s against the advice of the CMP

Quote:
CMP DOES NOT RECOMMEND FIRING ANY SPRINGFIELD RIFLE WITH A ”LOW NUMBER” RECEIVER. Such rifles should be regarded as collector’s items, not “shooters”.
reduced power loads and cast bullets aren't going to protect you if the brass fails. If the brass is sound, a full-power load isn't going to rupture it, so you might as well shoot full-powered loads. But you must handload and be very selective about the brass you use. Use only once-fired brass that was fired in a different rifle. There is a tiny chance brand-new brass including that in factory ammo could have a manufacturing flaw. Using once-fired brass (fired in a different rifle) means the brass has been "proofed". After the initial full-length resizing use that brass only in that low number M1903 and neck resize only. After a certain number of firings stop using that brass for that low number M1903 and use it in other rifles.

Since high number M1903s are easy to find (I've bought two within the past month, one for $300 and one for $800) in my opinion there is no reason to take even the small increased risk of shooting a low number M1903. But I know that with some people, advising them that they shouldn't do something only makes them want to do it more, so be smart about it, use top quality once-fired brass, and always wear good quality eye protection.

Last edited by Milsurp Collector; 07-24-2012 at 12:32 PM.
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  #7  
Old 07-24-2012, 12:51 PM
dave tengdin dave tengdin is offline
 
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This is the best explanation I've ever seen!

Thank you for posting it!
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  #8  
Old 07-24-2012, 01:18 PM
mkrad mkrad is offline
 
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I have seen posted on this forum that CMP will not allow a Springfield to be fired at vintage bolt matches with S/N under 810,000. Correct me if I am wrong. They know more about these issues than most.
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  #9  
Old 07-24-2012, 01:30 PM
Milsurp Collector Milsurp Collector is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mkrad View Post
I have seen posted on this forum that CMP will not allow a Springfield to be fired at vintage bolt matches with S/N under 810,000. Correct me if I am wrong. They know more about these issues than most.
You are correct.

Quote:
6.3.3 As-Issued M1903 Springfield
The rifle must be a standard issue service rifle that was issued by the U.S.
Armed Forces and be in as-issued condition. Permitted rifles are the Caliber
.30 U. S. Model 1903 and Model 1903 A3 Springfield rifles, except that Caliber
.30 U. S. Model 1903 Springfield rifles manufactured by Springfield Armory
with serial numbers of 810,000 or lower or by Rock Island Arsenal with serial
numbers of 285,506 or lower may not be used in any CMP-sanctioned competition.


http://www.odcmp.com/competitions/rulebook.pdf
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  #10  
Old 07-24-2012, 01:54 PM
Herschel Herschel is offline
 
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I believe the CMP rule is based on defense against lawsuits should a rifle fail for any reason. The risk of shooting low number 1903's has been the subject of lengthy and heated discussions. Some day when you have a lot of time, do a search of the forums and read the arguments.
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