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I have an '03 Springfield that was my late Father's that has a serial number below the ones that were double heat treated. It appears to be in pretty good shape. His best friend told me that you can crack the receiver just by hitting it lightly. I have heard both ways.
What thinks you. Can I shoot it with older military ball ammunition?
Jim
 

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Eddystone didn't make 03s, they made the 1917s or as some call it the American Enfield. There are all sorts of opinions about the older 03s, I'm not an expert, I'm sure someone will come along shortly. As for me I wouldn't take the chance. I have seen some of those older 03s that were re-built during WWII with 1942 barrels on them.
 

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My 1921 '03 is a Rock Island. My 1918 M1917 has an Eddystone barrel.
 

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I have an '03 Springfield that was my late Father's that has a serial number below the ones that were double heat treated. It appears to be in pretty good shape. His best friend told me that you can crack the receiver just by hitting it lightly. I have heard both ways.
What thinks you. Can I shoot it with older military ball ammunition?
Jim
Hey Jim,

If you do not reload, a couple firms are making "M-1 Garand" ammo. I would shoot that.

Pay mind to the head stamps on the older Ball ammo. There was some (not a whole lot) that got out that was "speced" for the .30 Browning/BAR (both of which are "stouter" than a Garand Gas System)

If you are not shooting it in DCM Competition, you should be just fine.

Later, Mark
 

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Jim, the only time I've heard of someone cracking an 03 action is when they were trying to re-barrel for a sporterize job. Apparently they hardened them too much & are a bit brittle. Like Mark said it should be fine w/ regular ammo.
 

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Re: OP. I have been shooting all manner of 03 and 03-A3 rifles since 1979. I have shot rifles that looked like they had been dragged behind a pickup truck over rough country. I have shot rifles that were ... in retrospect ... museum pieces. I have one Springfield 03 that was rebarreled in WWII with a very nice excellent Sedley 44 barrel. The serial number is 800,807 ... now that'll give cause for pause. After all, the CMP cuts things off a little bit beyond that for matches. God only knows how many rounds that particular rifle has digested since 1918. I know that there were receiver failures that occurred. I know that the Army removed low numbered receivers from service and that the Marines continued to use both low and high number receivers throughout the interwar period and through WWII. If there were any failures during those later years, i.e., WWII, no reports of such failure are existent.

The cause of failure is typically attributed to faulty heat treating. Possibly. There is no doubt that a double-heat treated receiver and bolt are delightfully slick and strong. However, it must be said that a good bit of the problem has to be attributed to the quality or lack thereof with WWI era ammunition production. It is a fact that the needs of the Army drove the production of ammunition to unprecedentedly quantities. Efforts were made to expedite production by reducing the number of draws for the cartridge casing. It did not work out well. There were problems with primers in FA production.

What to do? What to do? Personally, I have been looking off and on for a nice pre WWI barreled receiver. I want one with a excellent bore. I intend to build it up to what one would expect of a WWI era rifle. And, I intend to shoot it. With a double-heat treated bolt, using modern excellent quality brass, I do not expect any problems. In over 40 years of shooting high powered rifles, I have had primers pierced exactly one time ... firing hot handholds in a .223 varmint rifle. It was my own fault. I have not ever had any kind of failure using any ammo ... even old grungy USGI ball ... when firing a 03 rifle. As well ... firing a "National Ordinance" 03-A3 I have not ever had any problem at all and that includes firing ball ammo produced in Mexico and France. A word of warning. The French .30-06 headstamped 1954 has a well deserved reputation for being questionable for shooting in any rifle. Sincerely. bruce.
 

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Gosh NO! Tests @Springfield Armory indicated that a sudden catastrophic event (Blown Up) is possible. Also the light tap from a hammer is correct. Make it a wall hanger.
 

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Re: OP. I have been shooting all manner of 03 and 03-A3 rifles since 1979. I have shot rifles that looked like they had been dragged behind a pickup truck over rough country. I have shot rifles that were ... in retrospect ... museum pieces. I have one Springfield 03 that was rebarreled in WWII with a very nice excellent Sedley 44 barrel. The serial number is 800,807 ... now that'll give cause for pause. After all, the CMP cuts things off a little bit beyond that for matches. God only knows how many rounds that particular rifle has digested since 1918. I know that there were receiver failures that occurred. I know that the Army removed low numbered receivers from service and that the Marines continued to use both low and high number receivers throughout the interwar period and through WWII. If there were any failures during those later years, i.e., WWII, no reports of such failure are existent.

The cause of failure is typically attributed to faulty heat treating. Possibly. There is no doubt that a double-heat treated receiver and bolt are delightfully slick and strong. However, it must be said that a good bit of the problem has to be attributed to the quality or lack thereof with WWI era ammunition production. It is a fact that the needs of the Army drove the production of ammunition to unprecedentedly quantities. Efforts were made to expedite production by reducing the number of draws for the cartridge casing. It did not work out well. There were problems with primers in FA production.

What to do? What to do? Personally, I have been looking off and on for a nice pre WWI barreled receiver. I want one with a excellent bore. I intend to build it up to what one would expect of a WWI era rifle. And, I intend to shoot it. With a double-heat treated bolt, using modern excellent quality brass, I do not expect any problems. In over 40 years of shooting high powered rifles, I have had primers pierced exactly one time ... firing hot handholds in a .223 varmint rifle. It was my own fault. I have not ever had any kind of failure using any ammo ... even old grungy USGI ball ... when firing a 03 rifle. As well ... firing a "National Ordinance" 03-A3 I have not ever had any problem at all and that includes firing ball ammo produced in Mexico and France. A word of warning. The French .30-06 headstamped 1954 has a well deserved reputation for being questionable for shooting in any rifle. Sincerely. bruce.

great post,

there has been some new evidence that has been found suggesting that the faults were not necessarily the heat treating, but the use of Grenade launchers on the 03's,

if you care to do a search, look for posts from a gent named CplNorton on Gunboard, Jouster or a few other boards, he has some very interesting details from archive searches,
 
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