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Thread: Springfield 1903 Low Number Reloads

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold Musket Man's Avatar
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    Springfield 1903 Low Number Reloads

    I know this topic has been beat to death. It seems everyone has an opinion. I thought I would throw my experience with mine personal 1903. I have a 170xxx number that was rebarreled in 1942 with a sedgley barrel. My barrel has very good rifling with no indication of being bent and restraitened.

    I have read Hatcherís book and countless articles on these low numbers. Several old reloaders Iíve spoke to as well. I wanted to shoot mine and see what she was capable of. I take full responsibility of my actions and just felt like there was so many issues that wasnít directly related to the rifle. Ammo being one of them.

    My choice of powder was Hodgdon 4895. Nosler 150 grain spitzer bullet in a Hornady case. CCI large rifle were my primer choice. H4895 is able to be reduced by 60% with the cartridge. I am using 34 grains or the 2.5cc Lee scooper.

    I can honestly say that this rifle is a very good shooter. Iím able to consistently shoot 1+ inch groups at a 100yds. Iím getting around 2150 - 2200fps for at the muzzle. Iíve fired several hundred rounds through this gun and am very pleased. I know there are people that will say Iím crazy for shooting these ďexploding gunsĒ. But as I said earlier, I have studied and researched and take full responsibility. I just thought this information would be useful to anyone wanting to fire these fine rifles.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    Oh, my, here we go again!

    I've got two of them. Use a 165 gr. CL spritzer. A modest charge of Red Dot or 2400. Get sub 1" groups at 50 yds. and 1 1/2" groups at 100 yds.

    If I was you I'd hunker down, 'cause there'll be incoming your way.


    Really like your avatar. Is that Gettysburg?

  3. #3
    Boolit Master



    curator's Avatar
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    If your '03 was rebarreled by Segley, he/they probably annealed and re-hardened the action to his specifications. I would have no worries about using this gun for cast boolit loads. Keep pressures below 42,000 psi and you should be good to go.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    I have 3 03.'s two of which are low numbered one being under 30,000 the other under 250,000.
    Both have 1940,s barrels on them.
    I shoot both with cast using 16.0 of 2400 and will never worry about one exploding.
    Calamity Jake

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    Shoot straight, keepem in the ten ring.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    The Marine Corps thought enough of the low numbered Springfields to rebarrel many of them during WW-2. Of course they were needing all the rifles they could get their hands on. I too have a low numbered one that was "sporterized", if you can call it that. I shoot it with cast loads and enjoy it as it is a real treasure and wonder what Dough Boy carried it "over there".
    BIG OR SMALL I LIKE THEM ALL, 577 TO 22 HORNET.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    The myth of Low # sprinfields have been exposed for Years now. but shooter still cling to the old. I have 2 Rock Islands and both are Early teens. I have shot them with reloads, commercial factory and Us military surplus. Not Once was any problems. These Myth s and post still Persist
    All myth
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    New York, the Empire State Where Empires were Won and Lost

  7. #7
    Boolit Bub
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    I have a 1903 ser#9xxxxx barrel date 8/18 only reason it is not original the stock is cut down not taped for a scope should I try to find a replacement stock or should I just get it taped for a scope

  8. #8
    Boolit Mold Musket Man's Avatar
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    That’s actually Cheatam Hill outside of Marietta Ga. It’s a neat area if you like the Civil War.

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master Char-Gar's Avatar
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    This subject deserves more comment that just dismissed the low number 03 issues as a "myth". There is some real substance that needs to be talked about.

    Folks are quick to point out that government records show the low numbered receivers did not fail at any greater rate than the higher numbered receivers. This is true but isn't all of the story.

    Both low and high numbered 03s have failed, most often due to ammo issues. The difference is what happens when these rifles fail and therein is the problem. When a high numbered receiver fails, it just swells up and locks up. When a low numbered receiver fails, it shatters and turns into a grenade, because it is brittle.

    Some years back one of our members posted pics of his blown up low numbered receiver. He did it with cast bullets, but an overcharge of powder. The receiver was in many pieces.

    So, if you want to shoot your low numbered receivers, please do so, but don't "poo-paw" the issue. It is real and you need to take extra care with your ammo when shooting one.
    Disclaimer: The above is not holy writ. It is just my opinion based on my experience and knowledge. Your mileage may vary.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master madsenshooter's Avatar
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    I was wondering at one time how they were going to come up with enough 03s for the Roosevelt Commemorative Match. Low numbered 03 rifles aren't allowed in CMP competition, and 03A3s aren't allowed in this particular match. But I guess there's enough of the high numbered 03s in shooter's hands to make a match of it. Either there's enough of them, or some of the fellows aren't telling their serial numbers!
    "If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny."

    -Thomas Jefferson

  11. #11
    Years ago, in a rather knowledgeable gun shop, the gunsmith had on display a sign, and it said they would not work on low number Springfield actions.

    With the sign, they posted pictures, of actions he had .......shattered...... with a hammer.
    .
    I was converted, I will not shoot a Springfield with a number under 100,000

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by curator View Post
    If your '03 was rebarreled by Segley, he/they probably annealed and re-hardened the action to his specifications. I would have no worries about using this gun for cast boolit loads. Keep pressures below 42,000 psi and you should be good to go.
    P.O. Ackley did my action that way, back in the late 70s.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by Char-Gar View Post
    This subject deserves more comment that just dismissed the low number 03 issues as a "myth". There is some real substance that needs to be talked about.

    Folks are quick to point out that government records show the low numbered receivers did not fail at any greater rate than the higher numbered receivers. This is true but isn't all of the story.

    Both low and high numbered 03s have failed, most often due to ammo issues. The difference is what happens when these rifles fail and therein is the problem. When a high numbered receiver fails, it just swells up and locks up. When a low numbered receiver fails, it shatters and turns into a grenade, because it is brittle.

    Some years back one of our members posted pics of his blown up low numbered receiver. He did it with cast bullets, but an overcharge of powder. The receiver was in many pieces.

    So, if you want to shoot your low numbered receivers, please do so, but don't "poo-paw" the issue. It is real and you need to take extra care with your ammo when shooting one.
    Well, mostly correct. The problem with low number Springfields is that they MIGHT be brittle, not that they are all brittle. A careful reading of Hatcher will have the explanation why.
    I give loading advice based on my actual results in factory rifles with standard chambers, twist rates and basic accurizing.
    My goals for using cast boolits are lots of good, cheap, and reasonably accurate shooting, while avoiding overly tedious loading processes.
    The BHN Deformation Formula, and why I don't use it.
    How to find and fix sizing die eccentricity problems.
    Do you trust your casting thermometer?
    A few musings.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by HangFireW8 View Post
    Well, mostly correct. The problem with low number Springfields is that they MIGHT be brittle, not that they are all brittle. A careful reading of Hatcher will have the explanation why.
    correct. the ones that are brittle are burnt and you cannot anneal them and re heat treat them ( well you could, but it would do no good).

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Not all low numbers are still low numbers.
    About 40 years ago The American Rifleman had photos of low number rifles that had the digit "1" added to the front end of the serial number. This was done to make the rifles easier to sell at higher prices.
    I actually bumped into a rifle so marked in a gun shop. The font used is different and the "1" results in the number being off centered.
    I never mentioned it to anyone since you can't reason with the typical low number owner. They only believe what is best for their wallets.
    EDG

  16. #16
    Boolit Grand Master WILCO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EDG View Post
    since you can't reason with the typical low number owner. They only believe what is best for their wallets.
    Wow. Nice high horse.
    Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. - Albert Schweitzer

    Yeah, I love cast iron cookware.

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  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    Anybody shooting low-number Springfield 03s should read the articles by Dave LeGate in Rifle #55 and Hugh Douglas in Rifle #99. They discuss both the original receivers and Sedgeleyís heat treatment and proofing method on them.

    The Sedgeley blowup of a couple years ago was discussed on the Double Gun and the Shiloh Forums, IIRC. A search should find them, if they are still there.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master


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    This link recaps the old knowledge: http://m1903.com/03rcvrfail/
    Buckshot's own shattered 1903: http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...=1#post1480222
    A pic:Click image for larger version. 

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    I give loading advice based on my actual results in factory rifles with standard chambers, twist rates and basic accurizing.
    My goals for using cast boolits are lots of good, cheap, and reasonably accurate shooting, while avoiding overly tedious loading processes.
    The BHN Deformation Formula, and why I don't use it.
    How to find and fix sizing die eccentricity problems.
    Do you trust your casting thermometer?
    A few musings.

  19. #19
    Boolit Grand Master WILCO's Avatar
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    Low Serial Springfield 1903 Blows up in Guy's Face!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PaHP7XDTtU
    Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. - Albert Schweitzer

    Yeah, I love cast iron cookware.

    Life is too short. Live yours to the fullest.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by WILCO View Post
    Low Serial Springfield 1903 Blows up in Guy's Face!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PaHP7XDTtU
    From the video: "It's a joke." It also adds nothing to this conversation.
    I give loading advice based on my actual results in factory rifles with standard chambers, twist rates and basic accurizing.
    My goals for using cast boolits are lots of good, cheap, and reasonably accurate shooting, while avoiding overly tedious loading processes.
    The BHN Deformation Formula, and why I don't use it.
    How to find and fix sizing die eccentricity problems.
    Do you trust your casting thermometer?
    A few musings.

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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