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Thread: `03 action soft or hard?

  1. #1
    PAPERPATCH MASTER


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    `03 action soft or hard?

    I have a chance to acquire an `03 Springfield reciever with bolt and trigger but nothing else. The serial is 750,XXX. I know the cut off point for soft recievers is near this number but don`t know the serial number. Can anybody refresh my memory on the cut off point?Robert

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    This is all I found
    http://m1903.com/03rcvrfail/

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  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    I found one from the CMP, looks like any Springfield over 800k is good, but I have also heard of people shooting the low # 1903's without issue
    http://thecmp.org/cmp_sales/rifle_sales/m1903-m1903a3/

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  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    800,000. But lower than that isn't "soft"- they were all case hardened, and harder than woodpecker lips.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    I have a Springfield made in 1914 serial just under 500,000. I figure I'll shoot cast loads only in it.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master Char-Gar's Avatar
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    The "low numbered" 1903 Springfields are not known to fail at a greater rate than those with "high numbers". The issues is what happens when they do fail. The low numbered receivers, being brittle will shatter and turn into grenades. The high numbered receivers will swell up, but not shatter.
    Disclaimer: The above is not holy writ. It is just my opinion based on my experience and knowledge. Your mileage may vary.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master Char-Gar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HappyWarrior View Post
    The "low number lie" continues. There is ZERO evidence of any low # receiver failing if headpace is correct and cartridges made are after 1920. In fact 1000s were rebuilt for use in WWII as our stock of M-1s could not meet needs. Marines at the "Canal" carried 03s, many of them low # guns pulled out of storage. 1000s of sporters were made by big name houses like G&H on low # actions. None are reported to have failed.
    It is not factual to say none are reported to have failed. All military rifles have failed from time to time. It is factual to say that the low numbered 03 do not fail at a great rate than high numbered 03. The army did an extensive study of these and found failures in both types, but no statistical difference in the rate of failure.

    I would be careful, were I you, about the causal use of the word "lie". It is an offensive word, a fight starter and does not add credibility to what you say. People can disagree without one being a liar.
    Disclaimer: The above is not holy writ. It is just my opinion based on my experience and knowledge. Your mileage may vary.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    If there had been no issue due to the incorrectly heat treated recievers, the arsenal would NOT have done the following"

    -Switched to use of dial gauge thermometer instead of naked eye color checking
    -Studied the structural issues
    -created the Hatcher hole

    The army also would not have let so many low numbers be turned into unusable drill rifles,,, many of whish have been converted to firing weapons over the years.

  9. #9
    Julian Hatcher and others who were there during all this report otherwise. Having seen a picture of what's left of a low serial number gun after an over pressure round I wouldn't want to shoot one if I didn't have to. As Char-Gar said it's not normal everyday shooting that causes the issue, it's one of those pesky little one in a million issues that causes the problem and as he mentioned the same problem still would trash a later receiver, but the receiver would stretch and swell in a safe manner .

    The basic problem is Springfield Armory personnel were heat treating the receivers without proper equipment to measure the temperature they were being heat treated at. Army Ordnance started getting reports of Springfield's catastrophically failing and literally exploding and sometimes seriously injuring people when overpressure rounds or to a lesser extent rounds with flawed cases were fired through them. When they checked the heat treatment plant at Springfield they found that the personnel were judging temperature by the color of the steel alone and that some receivers were heat treated well in spec and others were dangerously off. The problem is there is no way of knowing if the receiver was correctly heat treated or not until the action fails.

    Hatcher also stated that Remington M1917 barrels made during the war had the same issue due to a manufacturing shortcut to avoid having to source properly dimensioned barrel blanks. Remington hit on the idea of using cheaper steel bars that were the correct dimensions for the barrel past the chamber and heating the end for the chamber and forging it to the dimensions needed. Some of the barrels were overheated in the process.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master lefty o's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HappyWarrior View Post
    The "low number lie" continues. There is ZERO evidence of any low # receiver failing if headpace is correct and cartridges made are after 1920. In fact 1000s were rebuilt for use in WWII as our stock of M-1s could not meet needs. Marines at the "Canal" carried 03s, many of them low # guns pulled out of storage. 1000s of sporters were made by big name houses like G&H on low # actions. None are reported to have failed.
    wouldnt happen to be a former member under a different name would ya?

  11. #11
    Boolit Master Char-Gar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Minuteshaver View Post
    If there had been no issue due to the incorrectly heat treated recievers, the arsenal would NOT have done the following"

    -Switched to use of dial gauge thermometer instead of naked eye color checking
    -Studied the structural issues
    -created the Hatcher hole

    The army also would not have let so many low numbers be turned into unusable drill rifles,,, many of whish have been converted to firing weapons over the years.
    Springfield Arsenal continued to heat treat the early 03 actions the same way it had head treated the Krag actions. The difference was in the design. The Krag did not trap escaping gas while the 03 did. The Hatcher hole was put in as a way for the gas to get out should it get loose in the action.

    Buckshot, one of our members blew up a low numbered 03 some time back and posted a series of pics of the remains of the action. It was quite an eye opener. He took the action apart with cast bullets and a DOUBLE charge of powder.

    I have seen high numbered 03 locked up by pressure in the action, but the did not fragment. They just swelled up like a toad and that was the end of that action.

    High pressure gas can get turned loose in any rifle due to ammo failure. I once was firing some 1930s Remington Palma match ammo in my 03 when one round felt different. I looked down and smoke was pouring out of the action and the striker was at full cock. Some of the gas had come back through the bolt and blown the striker back to full cock. The case body had a generous hole in it. I checked the target and sure enough the hole was there but 6" out of the group. I ejected the case, checked out the rifle and it was fine. The rifle was one of the good old double heat treated actions. Yes, I did have on shooting glasses. This was back about 1961 or so.

    Bottom line is low numbered 03s don't fail any more than high numbered 03s. But when one does fail...Whoa Nelly!
    Disclaimer: The above is not holy writ. It is just my opinion based on my experience and knowledge. Your mileage may vary.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    That is the problem; overly hardened and brittle receivers on Springfield rifles with serial numbers below 800,000. They were subject to sudden and catastrophic failure. The 800,00 number was for the Springfield Amory rifles, the number for the Rock Island Arsenal was below 285,00 or so(I'm dealing with memory here). This did not mean that all these rifles were going to fail, only that the possibility existed. They did replace the receivers on models sold to civilians at no cost and recalled the ones in service. Part of the problem was also traced to ammo but you can start a real argument when you say they are completely unusable. I myself like the nickel steel receivers used later. Just my experience anyway, james

  13. #13
    Boolit Master Char-Gar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HappyWarrior View Post
    pointless
    No, your original post was not pointless, just wrong. Your follow up post is factual, but tells us nothing new. Do you have anything we don't know to offer up on the matter?

    Folks with low numbered 03 receivers can shoot them or not, that is their choice. However they should know the consequences in the unlikely event that one should go kaboom, which does happen ever now and again. Yes, most likely due to the ammo, but that is not the point. Most kabooms are ammo related in whatever firearm.
    Disclaimer: The above is not holy writ. It is just my opinion based on my experience and knowledge. Your mileage may vary.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    What's the story on the No.4?Never seem a failure like that before.

  15. #15
    Boolit Bub
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    Quote Originally Posted by HappyWarrior View Post


    Why the Alaskan is not all the way back .... who knows, but this RF Sedgley 7x57 was built on a low # action in the 1920-30s and is quite nice. I doubt G&H would take the chance on selling an unsafe rifle.
    Lyman Alaskans had an eye relief long enough that they were sometimes placed with the scope rear in front of the bolt handle. This eliminated reshaping the bolt handle (and stock) for scope clearance. The one pictured is even a bit more forward to clear the receiver sight aperture.

    Bruce

  16. #16
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Char-Gar View Post
    They just swelled up like a toad....
    Man! True Texas lingo. How I love it!

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    The USMC preferred to bore out the "Hatcher Hole" in low number receivers to vent gases in the case of a ruptured case head. Sedgley and some other Gunmakers annealed and re-heat treated low number receivers before building custom sporters from them.
    Not all low number receivers were in fact brittle, but an unknown percentage were. There was no non destructive process for determining which were brittle and which were safe. Hatcher wrote of at least one incident where a low number receiver shattered when a low pressure guard cartridge was fired, though the same rifle had survived many full powered loads.

    Many receivers shattered if stuck a sharp blow with a mallet. There may be few if any dangerously brittle low number receivers left out there, because most of the brittle ones were discarded after armorers became suspicious during the Hatcher Hole boring process or found cracks on inspection during re-barreling. I expect any experienced machinist could tell by feel if a receiver was brittle under the carburized layer during the boring process. Metal that hard can seize a bit and shatter it.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master JMax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lefty o View Post
    wouldnt happen to be a former member under a different name would ya?
    Lefty o I think you are correct especially when he mentioned shooting hundreds of military bolt rifles chambered in 30-03 and 30-06��

  19. #19
    Boolit Master lefty o's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HappyWarrior View Post
    Sedgley CLAIMED to reheat treat the receivers. Good PR but not born out by any facts. A SHT action really cannot be changed into something it's not. Sedgley bought "condemmed" receivers as he was smart enough to know there was nothing wrong with them. Ever seen/heard of a blown up Sedgley ? Nope, in spite of them being made in hot chamberings like 270 WCF and opened up for 300 H&H and 375 H&H.
    As the link said, never happened after 1929 when it's reasonable to assume the soft head 1918 ammo was finally exhausted or trashed. A great many rebuilt SHT rifles issued to the USMC in WWII did not have the "Hatcher hole" as getting them afield was far more important than dealing with a problem that ceased to exist after 29'.

    Many M-1s slam fired in WWII and Korea due to stuck firing pins. Probably far more than 03' failures. Do we see anyone calling to relegate them to wall hangers ? Nope.

    Tempest in a teapot that provides something to talk about.
    m1's slamfired huh. go bark up another tree. the receiver bridge in an M1 prevents that. any M1's that slam fired would have failed inspection from any armorer worth a ****. your still not very humble.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master Char-Gar's Avatar
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    Threads like this become more of a study in human nature, that anything about guns, bullet casting or reloading.
    Disclaimer: The above is not holy writ. It is just my opinion based on my experience and knowledge. Your mileage may vary.

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