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Old 01-14-2017, 11:40 AM
John Beard John Beard is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Sweet Home Alabama
Posts: 3,790
Default My Day at the CMP

Many of you have asked for details about the M’03-A3 rifles you bought recently from the CMP. So I thought I would share My Day at the CMP with you.

My day begins at 4:30 a.m. That’s when I rise, dress, put on my steel-toed shoes, and leave home by 5:00 a.m. The CMP armory workday begins at 7:00 a.m. and it’s a two hour and 10 minute drive to Anniston. So I arrived at 7:10 a.m.

The workbench and rifle pallets were right where I left them in December. I work one Friday each month. The guys and gals at the CMP lose no time in welcoming me and making me feel right at home. I place my lunch in the refrigerator, place my tools on the workbench, and start to work. I usually work alone.

I process M’03-A3’s. That’s because M’03-A3’s require only three pallets to process: one pallet to take unprocessed rifles out of and two pallets to place processed rifles in; one pallet for Remingtons and one pallet for Smith-Coronas. When the CMP processes M1903’s, nearly a dozen pallets are required because of all the different types, and that requires lots of floor space.

Each pallet is fitted with two large cardboard boxes. Each box holds 45 rifles. So each pallet holds 90 rifles. Rifles are stacked in each box upright and side-by-side in layers with 10 rifles per layer. A thick cardboard sheet separates each layer. Each box holds 5 layers. The top layer is only 5 rifles and they are laid flat.

When rifles arrive from the VFW and American Legion Posts, Matthew checks each rifle to be sure it’s not loaded, records each serial number on a serialization sheet (referred to as “serializing”), and stacks each rifle in a box as described on a pallet. The serial numbers are entered into the CMP data base and the rifles are initially classified as Drill Rifles. Matthew brings me a pallet of rifles when I need them and I go to work.

I remove a rifle from the box, strike the serial number from the box serialization sheet, and proceed with processing it. I first remove any sling that may be attached to the rifle (the VFW and American Legion Posts frequently turn in rifles with slings still attached) and verify the butt trap is empty. Most of the time it is, but occasionally I find an oiler or other personal item.

I then inspect and grade the bore. I begin by running a brush down the bore several times to remove any crud and residue. I can pretty much grade the bore by the way the brush slides down the bore. If the brush slides smoothly, it’s a good bore. If the brush feels like it’s sliding on sandpaper, then it’s a dark bore. I finish by running an oily patch down the bore. I then use a pocket flashlight and visually inspect the bore. If the bore is unserviceable and looks like a sewer pipe, the rifle is condemned and stripped for badly-needed parts.

I then inspect the rifle for damage and broken or missing parts. Anything broken is repaired. Anything missing is replaced. Cracked or broken stocks are replaced. Badly-damaged handguards are replaced. Cracked handguards are not. I also check to see if the bolt manufacturer matches the rifle manufacturer. This is not required, but I do it as a courtesy. The VFW and American Legion posts frequently mix the bolts when cleaning. To the extent that I can sift through a few rifles in the box and find the matching bolts, I try to sort them back out. That’s not always possible. And some rifles are fitted with straight-handle bolts. Those must be replaced with curved-handle bolts. Again, I try to match manufacturer and serial range, but am not always successful.

I then verify headspace with both GO and NO GO gauges. About one out of every six rifles will not accept a GO gauge. So I have to take it down to the workshop and ream the chamber. That takes about 5-10 minutes. In most cases, the rifles are short-chambered from crud and blank-firing residue in the chamber.

I remove the bolt sleeve/firing pin assembly and verify that the striker is intact and not a drill rifle striker. I also verify that the rear sight windage knob will turn and is not bent. About one out of every five rifles has a bent knob. Bent knobs are straightened. I also verify that the safety lock will engage. Anything that doesn't work is fixed.

I then gauge muzzle wear and throat erosion. These measurements are recorded on the hanging tag along with the bore classification (“Good” or “Dark”). I initial and date the card, flip it over, write the rifle manufacturer, model, and serial number on the card along with “S- Stock” and attach the card to the upper sling swivel.

I write on my note pad the rifle manufacturer, serial number, barrel date, number of rifling grooves, level of originality, and I note any repairs or replacements made. I then write the serial number on the CMP serialization sheet and place the rifle in the box on the pallet according to the rifle manufacturer.

Occasionally I find an unusual or exceptional rifle which is then set aside for the CMP auction or for presentation. These would include a duplicate serial number Z-prefix or C-prefix rifle, an unusually high serial number, or an unusually low serial number.

Yesterday, I inspected and processed 18 rifles: 11 Remingtons and 7 Smith-Coronas. One rifle had an unserviceable bore and was stripped for parts. I filled out a data sheet on the rifle as I stripped it down. The stripped barreled receiver was serialized into a box of stripped barreled receivers. The rear sights on two rifles were completely missing. So I had to assemble and fit rear sights to those rifles. Two rifles had broken rear sights which had to be repaired. And several more rifles had bent windage knobs which had to be straightened. Two rifles had straight-handled bolts which had to be replaced. One rifle had a cracked stock that had to be replaced with the stock from the stripped rifle.

The workers take a 15-minute break at 9:30 a.m. and break for a half-hour lunch at 12:00. The armory building has a break room with tables and chairs, refrigerator, microwave, and coffee pot. The workday ends at 3:30. By mid-afternoon, I had finished filling a 90-rifle pallet of Remington M’03-A3’s. I made a copy of the two serialization sheets and gave them to one of the ladies for verification. The serial numbers are verified and the classifications are changed from “Drill Rifle” to “Ready-to-Ship.” Once the serial numbers have been verified, a copy of the serialization sheet is attached in a plastic packet to the outside of each box, the original serialization sheet is placed inside the box, and the box is sealed up.

I work as a volunteer and receive no remuneration for my work. I furnish my own tools and gauges which meet CMP standards. I have worked at the CMP almost eighteen years. I receive no discount on any rifles I may purchase. And I am under the same purchase limitations and restrictions as the general public.

The guys and gals at the CMP are a wonderful group to work with. They are exceptionally friendly and go out of their way to make me feel at home. They exemplify Southern Hospitality at its finest. I look forward each trip to meeting and working with them.

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Old 01-14-2017, 11:51 AM
DBR63 DBR63 is offline
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Northwest Ohio
Posts: 1,146

Mr Beard,

Very enlightening to read a post of your day. Thanks so much for the work you volunteer to do. Hope you have a blessed day! Brian
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Old 01-14-2017, 11:52 AM
canes7 canes7 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Raleigh, NC
Posts: 2,507

Great write up John, Thanks.
Dan W.
CMP GSM Master Instructor
CMP HP Master
DR#2474 (2019) 1/2 with irons, 1/2 with optics
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Old 01-14-2017, 11:54 AM
Craftsman Craftsman is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: South Florida
Posts: 7,494

John, thank you for all you do at the CMP and thank you for this interesting write up of how you process 1903 & 1903A3 bolt rifles for the CMP! I received a beautiful SC back in the 2011 mail order release, and upon posting about it in the forum and including it's serial #, you posted that you had inventoried that particular rifle and had filled out a data sheet for it at the time, deeming it in substantially original condition other than the butt plate that got switched with an earlier SC butt plate at the VFW post it came from. I was very grateful to learn a little bit about my rifle thanks to you. We all here have benefited from the knowledge you so willingly share, so again I say, THANK YOU!
Grandfathers Dwight & Percy- Both WWI US Army, Tank Corps & Corps of Engineers
Uncle Colby- WWII US Army Infantry - European Theater / Battle of the Bulge
Dad - US Army Infantry Radio/Morse Code Instructor, Fort Knox - 1954-1956

VFW Patriots Circle Member
NRA Life Member
PMRPC - CMP/GSM Rifle Match Chairman
GSM Master Instructor
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Old 01-14-2017, 11:56 AM
dnmccoy dnmccoy is offline
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Ohio
Posts: 3,996

Thank you fire your service and knowledge John!
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Old 01-14-2017, 12:03 PM
Bubblehead751 Bubblehead751 is offline
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 159

As a new shooter and new to military rifles, I really enjoy reading and learning from your posts. Someday I'll be brave enough to disassemble my own rifle.
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Old 01-14-2017, 12:10 PM
gunny gunny is offline
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: North Bama
Posts: 6,448

Great, great, great report JB. Read it 3 times. As much as I don't "need" any more A3s, I just may need to make another 4 hour round trip to the SS to get another one you had your hands on.....
Semper Fi,
RVN '66 - '68 1st Tank Bn
USMC Ret. 1986, US Army Civilian Retired 2011
"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." -- George Orwell
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Old 01-14-2017, 12:35 PM
10thmountain 10thmountain is offline
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Marietta, GA
Posts: 585

Just fantastic insight. Thank you.
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Old 01-14-2017, 12:50 PM
Chas100 Chas100 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: NE Ohio
Posts: 812

MR Beard

Thank You for the very insightful information on the process of a typical day for you bringing an 03-A3 back to life and I want to issue you a huge Thank You for the work and detail that goes above and beyond what is expected !! I consider myself very lucky that my first 03-A3 (3,358,134) that I was able to purchase and hand pick at the NS last week was inspected and processed by you !!!

Thank You again for the excellent information on a day at work and for the invaluable information on the 03-A3 that you built for my first 03-A3 !!!

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Old 01-14-2017, 01:01 PM
hquiles hquiles is offline
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Puerto Rico
Posts: 669

Excellent post Mr. Beard! Thanks for your hard work.

When the CMP stop selling the 1903A3s, rifles handled by you should be sold at a higher value.
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