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My father just gave me a Rock Island 1903. He accquired this gun in 1953 from
his great Uncle.It has a serial # of 20,XXX.Very Low Serial #'s. I was wondering if anyone would know what year this rifle was made????? I've also
heard some of the lower serial #'s 1903's were unsafe to shoot;but mine
:uzi: as good and is as accurate as any of my AR's with open sights.I am not
looking to sell it,but Iam also wondering what it's worth.It's in good condition
considering it's almost 100 years old.Anyone with any info please post.
Thanks


B from TEXAS: One of the last free gun states in the US...
 

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last issue of American Rifleman had a good article on Rock Island Armory 03's :)
 

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From "The springfield 1903 rifle LT/COL William Brophy USAR RET"
Rock Island 1906 16,733
1907 53,108

1918 Double Heat Treating starting with 285,507

DANA
 

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DANA is correct.

There are two schools of thought regarding the safeness to fire.

If it has gone through a rebuild program since the "Double Heat Treating" began in 1918 with S/N 285,507, and the military thought it was unsafe to fire, it would have been scrapped.

Lt. Col. Brophy documented less than 100 1903's that had failed due to percieved heat treating problems. Some were basically proof fired with proofing rounds, until they broke (who knows how many shots???, and at 78,000 lbs/sq/inch). Some were fired after dipping the cartridges in oil (a habit started with 1890's rifles to cut down on the copper deposits in the barrel), and they failed. In every case some basic safety rules had been ignored, and the rifles were destroyed. It will never be known if any failed in combat, unless specific rifles had been documented as failing, and I can't find any source that would have that data.

Having been trained as a "Blacksmith", I acknowledge that the potential for failures using the "Old" methods, could be possible. However at the time the failures began to occur, Springfield and Rock Island had ramped up to build rifles for WWI, and if you have ever worked in a production shop where new people have been trained in a hurrry, then you, too, understand that there were a few inadequately trained Blacksmiths. The "Old Timers", had used the light present in their workshop to discern the colors they were looking for during the tempering process, and as I was trained, I always had a place that I could consistently see the colors of the metal. The new workers had only a rough idea as to what they should be looking for, and as a result may have been responsible for those 100 or so Receivers that were destroyed.

When you realize, that below a certain number (800,000 at Springfield; and 285,507 at Rock Island), the rifles are unsafe to fire due to less than 100 failures. That is over 1,000,000 rifles with less than 100 failures (pretty good odds, since the rifles have mostly been battle tested, in more than one war).


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That's some nice insight there Gyrene, makes you wonder.

Speaking of wondering, what is the double heat treat that is spoken of, that was not present in the earlier guns? Is this referring to 1)tempering to harden, and then 2)annealing to toughen and de-stress the metal, or what?
 
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