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Thread: 03-Drill rifle rebuilds?

  1. #21
    Boolit Master


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    If you are that concerned, send it out to be re heat treated.

  2. #22
    Boolit Master

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    Seen an 03-A3 and an M-1 brought back from the dead by a machinist with access to tools.The rifles however, just shoot cast.
    The bolt handle was welded on both and there was a weld on the receiver where the barrel screws in. New barrels, new range time.

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  3. #23
    Nothing like making bombs for future shooters.

  4. #24
    Boolit Master

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    About 20 years ago hand picked 2 drill 03A3's at a gun show. Both had cold " chicken do- do" looking welds between receiver and plugged barrels, same type welds on mag. cut off. Drimmel tool cut off disc took care of both spots. Rebarreled and shot very well, IIRC both were Smith Corona's. Now wish I had kept one.
    10-x

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  5. #25
    Boolit Master Moleman-'s Avatar
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    The welds on the ones I've seen would best be described as small tac welds with little penetration. The Parkerizing color less than 1/4" away was normal so not much heat was used. Don't think you'll have any issues with it. I've also never seen where someone has had an issue with the 1903A3 Springfield rifles that were brought back to life. Several companies have rebuilt them in the past and other than the stigma I've not heard anything bad about those either.

  6. #26
    Boolit Master
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    Somewhere along the line at least one person had a negative experience with the resurrection of one of these rifles and from then on it has gone into the annals of gospel-truth for anyone else looking to get one of these de-milled rifles up and running again. I'd be willing to bet that this "One-Person" tried to bring back an extensively welded example of these de-milled rifles.

    There are the genuinely concerned and well intended dream-killers and then there are those with hands-on experience. The OP's decision is not if the rifle is still safe to use, the decision involves deciding which of the two parties above to listen to. If the gun has just a few spot welds locking it up it sounds like a prime candidate as a fixer-upper to me. A simple visual inspection to determine how deep the welds may have penetrated the steel should be your Go or No-Go gauge.

    HollowPoint

  7. #27
    They were demilled for a reason.

  8. #28
    The early original 03 rifles had the notorious heat-treatment deficiencies which are hotly debated on the board, with every shade of opinion from "never shoot" to "only affects a few, and the others are fine." I know of no such problems with the 03-A3. It might have been a good idea to check headspace before removal of the old barrel, but the chances are that the action was fine. Rifles acquire drill status for various reasons. With first-line equipment in wartime it would almost certain to be serious decrepitude, but yours was done at a time when the military had a lot of them it didn't want, and probably so classed perfectly good ones.

    I think it was a very good idea to replace the bolt, if the firing-pin hole was welded up. That is very close to the locking lugs, and the junction of the weld and the old metal, where it is both heated and cooled very quickly, would worry me more than gently soaking the whole thing at a high temperature. I can't see any harm coming from welding on the forward part of the receiver ring, which is further from the locking shoulders.

  9. #29
    Boolit Master
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    To All,

    There are "demils" that amounted to LITTLE & some "drill rifles" that were "converted into junk" during the process.
    (During my old boarding school DAZE of the early 1960s, we had some 1903A1 & Garand "drill rifles" that had had the firing pins removed & the firing pin hole welded shut. - NOTHING else was done to "demil" them. = I "plead guilty as charged" to have changed out the welded bolts for new ones, checked the headspace & we cadets fired the "drill rifles" thereafter on the school rifle team, with excellent results.)

    Addenda: Also one of the Cadet Brigade staff officers "borrowed a rifle from the arms room" & took 2 WT bucks with it. = When Mike got "caught", he served several periods of "cleaning latrines" for his "against school-policy action".

    yours, tex
    Last edited by texasnative46; 03-07-2017 at 12:02 PM. Reason: typos

  10. #30
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steelshooter View Post
    They were demilled for a reason.
    Hi Steelshooter,

    This particular drill rifle gauged at a 2 on the barrel! Never thought to check the throat erosion, after we took the barrel off.

    Actually it does not look bad now, that the steel rod has been removed! I'll have to bring the stub, when I visit the gunsmith again! The bolt did lock up well, (both lugs actually) as was seen, when we looked at it & the back of the receiver where the bolt locked up!

    Please remember, when the rifles were converted to drill status, almost every high school had a rifle team & a drill team along with the Boy Scouts, Sea Scouts, Boys Clubs & many VFW posts! We were very PATRIOTIC back then! There was HUGE call for them. "WE" & the politicians of the time, actually fought to WIN!

    With luck, I'll get a chance to try it out tomorrow.

    Thanks for your interest & your caution is well taken,
    broom
    Last edited by broomhandle; 03-08-2017 at 01:15 AM.

  11. #31
    Boolit Master



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    Quote Originally Posted by Steelshooter View Post
    They were demilled for a reason.
    Correct and the reason was at one time there was a very large demand of rifles not capable of live fire.
    Last edited by M-Tecs; 03-09-2017 at 05:18 AM.

  12. #32
    Boolit Master Moleman-'s Avatar
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    I ended up with 2 of the 03A3 drill barrels. The bore (except for near the weld end) were bright and shiney. Ended up just cutting off the chamber area anyway so it wasn't an issue. One is currently a 308x39 and the other will end up being a 30 luger or 300bo at some point.

  13. #33
    How does welding the barrel to the action or welding the mag. cutoff make the rifle non firing. The actions were deemed unserviceable. But who am I to say. If your happy I am happy.

  14. #34
    I did one in 45 acp. It looks a little sketchy around the bolt release but came out pretty nice overall

  15. #35
    Boolit Master
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    Hi Fellows.

    I fired the rifle today! I'm happy to report that the rifle & I are FINE!

    I was a little ill at ease the first few rounds. The CMP employee had spooked me about a blow up!

    For safety sake, I had the rifle on it's side-bolt up. It was wrapped in three thick towels & a section of carpet. To properly break in the barrel I fired one round & cleaned the bore well. This was repeated with each shot. The rifle was just pointed down range, wrapped in the towels & carpet. I used a coat hanger to fire the rifle.
    After the 8th shot, I fired the rifle in a normal manner. I'm happy to report handling the rifle was a little strange, but I had three holes touching at 50 yards. I'm sure with a little practice I'll reach out more. Friday I'll finish breaking in the barrel & shoot it a little more.
    So at this point & the TOTAL lack of any reported blow up's on any search I have done. I would say the majority of posters here & other boards are correct. A Drill rifle in good shape & with small welds have a good gunsmith build or direct you & you should have nice safe historic rifle.
    Of course, there can be a bad rifle's out there, so go forward at your own risk! You have been warned. I was & asked questions here & other places. BEFORE & after I got involved!

    Be SAFE & Good Luck to all of you,
    broom

  16. #36
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steelshooter View Post
    How does welding the barrel to the action or welding the mag. cutoff make the rifle non firing. The actions were deemed unserviceable. But who am I to say. If your happy I am happy.
    Hi Steelshooter,

    You totally miss the point, they were MADE unserviceable! We had Millions of usable bolt action rifles on hand "WE" had entered the semi -auto rifle age! With the M-1 Garand (1938?) the bolt action rifle at that point, had no real military use except for training & service troops behind the lines.
    The barrel has a steel rod hammered or welded into the bore at the breach, which is in turn,is welded through a slot ground or cut into the underside of the barrel. The barrel is now unable to accept a bullet. it's safe! The welding of the area between the barrel & receiver, is a second safety measure the CMP took to make it harder for a quick barrel switch. A Federal requirement?
    The fireing pin in the bolt is broken off & the bolts fireing pin hole is welded up. Usually with a big weld!

    The bolt can't be removed from the action, because because the bolt mag cut off is welded up solidly in a position that has a solid steel stop in place! It can't come apart without destroying that unit in most cases!

    Be well,
    broom

  17. #37
    I don't know where you heard that story from, I read your question over on cmp forum. The guns would come back to the armory and checked out, any guns considered serviceable were sold to the public thru cmp. My grandfather use to buy them by the crate, any rifle deemed unserviceable were welded up and sold as drill rifles. Btw my grandfather would buy them for $10 to $20 apiece, if I knew then what I know now. Any way its good to see you are okay and good luck to you.

  18. #38
    Boolit Master
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    Well from what I gleaned from a write up by a CMP employee the 1903 drill rifles were the problem not the 03A3 actioned Drill Rifles.
    Near as I can tell 03 drill rifles were converted from rifles not considered serviceable, many being Low Number receivers judged unfit for re barreling.
    Some of those Low Number receivers were found to have broken up under the stress of square bashing alone.
    I expect, though I'm not sure, that early weld ups were done with gas and rod rather than tack welds.

    I've also read that of the commercial 03A3 reactivations as many as 40% failed proof and were scraped.

    That's just what I've read from what appeared to be reliable sources.

    I'm not saying all such reactivated drill rifles are suspect, only that some did not make the grade. Better that they failed in proof testing than on the range.

  19. #39
    Boolit Master
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    Also many 03A3 weld up jobs were done by the USN not by the CMP. The Navy used 03A3 drill rifles for many years after WW2. The method and extent of welding varied according to when where and by whom it was done but the finished product had to conform to a specification.

  20. #40
    Boolit Master
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    I've also read that of the commercial 03A3 reactivations as many as 40% failed proof and were scraped.

    That's just what I've read from what appeared to be reliable sources.

    I'm not saying all such reactivated drill rifles are suspect, only that some did not make the grade. Better that they failed in proof testing than on the range.

    Hi Steelshooter,

    If it's not a big deal to locate, could you post that source.

    Thanks for your reply,
    broom







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BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
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