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Thread: 03-Drill rifle rebuilds?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    03-Drill rifle rebuilds?

    Hi Fellows,

    Now is not the smartest time to ask this question BUT I feel I must.
    After reading a few post's other sites. I bought a 03-A3 drill rifle mainly for the stock, to convert my old reliable 50's hunting rifle back to military stock!
    After reading up on drill rifles, I decided to rebuild the rifle's action, back to firing condition. I'm a retired Tool & Die maker - needing a project.

    My question to all of you is, do you know of any rebuilds that failed? I can't find one instance on the net. A employee at the CMP store seemed to feel the action will coming apart!
    All reports I have seen are POSITIVE!

    I removed the old barrel, with my gunsmith help & proper tools, bought & fitted a new CMP barrel, fitted & installed a NOS bolt & other required parts. It head-spaced perfectly with the required reamer & gauges!

    My plan to to strap the rifle down & fire one shot at a time with a good cleaning each time to break in the barrel & wrap the action in carpet as a safety. My thought is it should be ready to go after ten rounds to be fired normally. YOUR THOUGHTS?

    Thanks for your interest,
    broom
    Last edited by broomhandle; 03-05-2017 at 05:47 PM.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    Just on the first read-through your plan sounds o.k. These rifles were demilled in several different ways. How was yours done? Any holes through the receiver ring? What is the serial number range?

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    the a4 sniper reproductions of a few years ago were made up from drill rifles. never heard of any of them having a problem. I have not seen any others letting go either.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master mtnman31's Avatar
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    I have two that I'm mid-build with. The fist had only the mag cutoff welded - a tiny tack weld. The barrel had not been welded to the receiver. The second had the mag cutoff tack welded and the barrel to the receiver. The barrel-receiver weld was very small and shallow. I'm completely comfortable building it up. If the weld had been bigger and gotten more penetration, I might be concerned. In fact, one of the CMP guys looked my receivers over at Camp Perry and warned me about rebuilding them. I think they do that as a liability thing. Seriously, the one that had the tiny tack weld on just the mag cutoff is not in any way compromised. Your plan to build and test sounds fine to me. Best of luck and let us know how it goes.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Der Gebirgsjager View Post
    Just on the first read-through your plan sounds o.k. These rifles were demilled in several different ways. How was yours done? Any holes through the receiver ring? What is the serial number range?
    Hi Sir,

    Small welds on both barrel & cut off assembly area. The barrel had more weld then the receiver. It cleaned up nicely
    It's a Smith -Corona serial #3638xxx - new CMP barrel & NOS bolt, along with a new sight unit.

    Good Shooting,
    broom

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

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    That sounds like a good prospect. I think it will work out for you. I hope you'll post a photo of your finished project.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    I do not know what I am talking about, so just for my information, would the welding on the receiver affect the heat treatment in any way?

  8. #8
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by dg31872 View Post
    I do not know what I am talking about, so just for my information, would the welding on the receiver affect the heat treatment in any way?
    If done with an arc welder probably not. Heat buildup I the locking lug area would be minimal probably not more than shooting a couple rapid fire strings in a match. The hard '03 receivers used to be spot annealed with torches (arc and acetylene) to D&T them, never hurt a thing.

    Larry Gibson

  9. #9
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    broomhandle
    I have a 03-A3 Remington that had been a drill rifle with the mag cut off welded and the barrel tack welded to the receiver below the wood. It has a new old stock GI barrel installed and the mag cut off replaced. I have been shooting this rifle for several years now and seems to be just fine although I have mainly been shooting with lead bullets and 2400 powder. I have however, fired a fair amount of M2 ball ammo through it with out any problem whatsoever. If I had your rifle I would not worry about it and enjoy shooting it.

    Ken

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Ive rebuilt several, made them 03a3's for the as issued matches at perry and vintage sniper. ONe of them is my primary shooter o3a3 and has over 1k rds through it by now with Ball equivalent handloads. It shoots good enough to have taken 4th in the Springfield match at Perry. As long as you select one that had a minimal weld on the receiver ring, minimal weld on the bolt stop, and replace the bolt instead of trying to drill the firing pin hole back out, you will have no problems.
    NRA High Master XTC
    DR# 2125

  11. #11
    My thoughts on this is the actions were deemed not safe to use by (should be) experts. Why take the chance.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master



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    All the ones that I have had did just fine
    Mike
    NRA Benefactor 2004

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by dg31872 View Post
    I do not know what I am talking about, so just for my information, would the welding on the receiver affect the heat treatment in any way?
    Hi Sir,

    YES! Depending on the type of weld, heat used & the receiver steel -sometimes a receiver will crack or GOD forbid come apart!
    I would not buy any receiver that had been welded back together! Unless it had been properly heat treated & properly checked. I hope I have stated this issue correctly.
    The Drill rifles on the other hand, have been welded on the outside only-at the joint of the barrel & receiver- which I feel is not a real danger. The bolt action Springfield was made using a strong/ tough inner steel with a very hard outer shell.
    The area I'm asking about "should" have minimal stress on it at all times. There is no sign of excessive heat damage to the receiver.
    Sadly this safety issue has bugged me enough to ask more knowledgeable people about it!
    My hope is all of us can learn something by asking a few questions.

    Good Shooting,
    broom

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Hi Gentleman,

    Thanks for ALL your reply's, most of which are positive & reassuring ! I really appreciate the negative posts too!
    I too have a serious concern, that's why I posted in the first place.

    I'll get to shoot it later this week. I -WILL- strap it down (wrapped up in carpet) & use a string to pull the trigger! Clean after each shot to break in the barrel. Then I'll shoot it in a regular manner!

    Hopeing I'm correct,
    broom

  15. #15
    Boolit Master

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    You are going to come back to the thread and tell us about how it turned out, aren't you? Also, a photo or two of the end result would be nice. Too bad you didn't take a "before" photo.

    The carpet idea is a good one, but if you're not going to test it at a range where other people are present the "tire trick" works well also, and that's what I've used when test firing rifles about which there might be some doubt for the first few shots. You need an old tire, pickup truck size is the best, and lay it flat on the ground. Stick the rifles butt inside the tire and run a rope or suitable length bungee cord around the tire, over the butt's comb, and around the tire again on the other side of the butt. The forearm is lying across the top of the tire's side and is tied down in the same manner. Then you attach a strong string to the trigger, get back behind a tree or other suitable barricade and pull the trigger. When the gun fires it will make the tire rock and roll, but there is no fear of it flipping over and scratching up the gun. Anyway, one never turned over when I used the system.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Hi Der G,

    I HOPE I will post, a good report. GOD willing! It's strange how a old guy that has been there & done that, can still have a nagging bad thought in his mind.
    I'm a true computer caveman so don't expect any pictures. I sometimes have a problem sending a E- mail.

    It is a good looking old rifle, nothing special at all. It did not see much service as a function rifle or as a drill rifle. Because there was no real damage (the usual little dents & bangs) to the original stock.
    It's marked with a FJA in a box -original inspection mark (I think) RA & OC so it's been through the armory at least twice..for what I have no idea!

    It's metal finish looks all original too, or it was re-parked before it became a drill rifle little wear on all parts. The rear sight was like new!Not all banged up like many others I have seen.

    Good casting,reloading & shooting to you,
    broom

  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    O.K., broomhandle, no photos. Just like a certain Moderator I can think of. Well then, it might interest you to know that your FJA marking means that the rifle was inspected by Frank J. Atwood, Lt. Col., USA who among inspecting other things, inspected M1903-A3 Remington rifles from 1942-1944. Since your specimen is a Smith Corona the stock may not be original to the rifle. No biggie in the world of US military rifles, were parts are freely interchanged by Ordnance without any regard at all to keeping things original. When you get the time you might recheck the other marking. RA, of course is Remington Arms, but I can't find anything in my references on OC.

    The lone as-issued M1903-A3 in my collection is also a Smith Corona. I've also got a Remington M1903. These were covered very well in a magazine article by Mike Venturino who told how, when production of the M1903 resumed for WW II, that the big stockpile of parts remaining from the M1903 WW I production was used until exhausted, and as this or that part ran out newly manufactured parts of the M1903-A3 pattern were used. Mine is in almost new condition and except for the stock (no finger grooves) is all M1903 stuff except for the middle barrel band and the trigger guard/floor plate group which is '03-A3. But that part is well worn and badly pitted, so I think someone swapped it out for a more desirable M1903 milled part, now days extremely hard to get in new condition. Someday I'll connect with one and restore it.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master

    Wayne Smith's Avatar
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    I know Hatcher mentioned the 'Blue Pill' that was used for proofing but I don't remember if he described it specifically. You could research this and reproduce it to confirm - a re-proof.
    Wayne the Shrink

    There is no 'right' that requires me to work for you or you to work for me!

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Hi Der G,

    It's in a Remington stock, might be original to the rifle.

    broom

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Smith View Post
    I know Hatcher mentioned the 'Blue Pill' that was used for proofing but I don't remember if he described it specifically. You could research this and reproduce it to confirm - a re-proof.
    Hi Sir,
    I think they were 20% over loaded. No, I don't think I have the nerve to go that high!
    Just had a cold chill go down my spine, with that thought!LOL

    Be well,
    broom

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check