Why the 03 a3?

Discussion in 'The Powder Keg' started by twtalbot, May 17, 2008.

  1. twtalbot

    twtalbot G&G Newbie

    The explanation I've always heard for the 1903 A3's existence was that factories couldn't produce M1s fast enough to meet the demand, but the only major land actions I'm aware of where US forces weren't fully equipped with M1 rifles were the Philippines and Guadalcanal, both of which happened before the 03 A3 went into production. This, coupled with the fine, often pristine condition of so many of the A3s I've seen leads me to wonder why, after the Army and Marines were fully equipped with semi-autos did we need a new bolt action, and who was it issued to? What action, if any, did it see? Am I right in thinking that it was mostly issued to soldiers with relatively "sedentary" duties, who wouldn't expose them to harsh conditions on a regular basis?
  2. Bravo

    Bravo G&G Newbie

    Actually, I think many soldiers that were exposed to harsh conditions on a regular bases were issued 1903 type rifles. I know military men in Alaska received the 1903.

    But you bring up a good question. I think they were great training rifles, and could also be easily adapted to a sniper rifle if a squad found the need for one.

  3. twtalbot

    twtalbot G&G Newbie

    Right about the men in Alaska getting 1903s, but the battle of Dutch Harbor was a year before the A3 went into service. Those 1903s would have been issued out of existing stocks produced before the adoption of the M1. Did men on the mainland receive A3s?

    The only reason I mentioned that I thought the A3s may not have received hard use is that so many are in almost new-looking condition. Of course, arsenal rebuilds are a possible explanation for that. Was that commonly done?
  4. The '03-A3 came about due to the old tooling wearing out and Remington wanting to take shortcuts in manufacturing. If my thinking is correct Remington had a contract to build X-amount of '03's we all know that once given the contract they aren't going to give up the profits made from producing the rifles. Another thing to take into consideration is how many foreign forces we armed with the 1903 as well as arming the local militias and civil defense forces. You wouldn't want to spend the same money to arm them as you would your main army. At least that is the only logical reason I can see for making them.
  5. Cyrano

    Cyrano Resident Curmudgeon Forum Contributor

    New York
    Guys, I hate to point this out, but the M-1 was adopted in 1936. It's true production was low, but the Army had enough in stock to equip the troops before thefirst expansion of the army in 1940. Even the Marines had enough of them to train officer candidates on them before World War II began. However, when the massive expansion of the armed forces began in 1940 there weren't enough Garands to go around and Springfields had to be issued to make up the shortfall. As war production ramped up (for example, Winchester received a contract in 1939 to produce 65,000 Garands and that was expanded in 1941), the Springfields were replaced in front line units by Garands. By the end of World War II, the only Springfields still in use in the field were sniper variants.
  6. Well, an old debate does sometimes rear its head . .

    . . . and a bolt action military rifle versus a semi-auto did not end with the adaptation of the Garand.

    Is is deliberate aiming by a trained marksman versus mass firepower
    by people in a tight situation. Not everyone welcomed the Garand from the "get go" as mass firepower does not always translate into someone hitting the target.

    The bolt action did live on in a sniper capacity and you may at times see pictures of a Springfield with a scope.
  7. twtalbot

    twtalbot G&G Newbie

    Now that contract to buy seems to make the most sense. And, I've often wondered what weapons were issued to the exiled soldiers of occupied countries who fought with the Allies.
  8. Bravo

    Bravo G&G Newbie


    You see a lot of them now with scopes.

    Mine has the scope mounted improperly. Someone decided to go the cheap route and tap the receiver, rather than side mount the scope. :(
  9. rfc357

    rfc357 Guest

    Hindsight would lead you to believe the 03 (in the guise of the 03A3) stayed in production longer than it should have, but hindsight is always 20-20. The US military was in great need of anything that would shoot, and it was very difficult to get commercial Garand production up and going. So it would seem to be a good hedge to continue producing a rifle that would do the job. Look at the history of the 1917 Enfield for another example. No one could have predicted when the war would end.
  10. And tens of thousands of troops not in combat need guns. My Uncle told me that if you wanted to see a Garand during WWII you needed to go to Europe or the Pacific.
    My other Uncle was a guard at Leavenworth(?) at he prison. He had a boltaction something.
  11. Don't forget the national guard, coast guard, marine and navy reserves plus various federal agencies. Another thing to consider is if we had lost England. How would we defend ourselves? Would we have to arm the citizens in the event of invasion? How many were issued to civil defense? How many merchant marines were issued weapons?
  12. cold queso

    cold queso G&G Regular

    About a month ago I posted this unscientific study of WW2 photographs.

    Solomon Islands - Marines with 1903s
    Guadalcanal - Marines with Garands and 1903s
    Saipan - Marines with Garands and 1903s
    Tarawa - Marines with Garands
    Kwajalein - Marines with 03A3
    Tinian - Marines with Garands
    Iwo Jima - Marines with Garands, 1903s, and 03A3s
    Omaha Beach - Marines with Garands

    It seems there was a great mixture of battle rifles throughout the war. In particular, the Iwo Jima photos seems to counter the argument that all front-line troops had Garands by the end of the war.
  13. rfc357

    rfc357 Guest

    When I started shooting service rifle competition in the 1960s, a lot of service shooters were still using 03s (and Garands)! Not an A3 to be seen, however. People tend to hang onto that with which they are familiar, if they can. I know the Army had a hard time parting me from my M14, but as an E-2 I didn't have much leverage. It took me a couple of decades to really warm up to the M16.
  14. Cyrano

    Cyrano Resident Curmudgeon Forum Contributor

    New York
    Can't testify to the others, jimkim, but I can regarding the Merchant Marine, since I'm a former Merchant Marine officer.

    How many Merchant Mariners were issued weapons? NONE.

    The only firearms aboard World War II American-flag merchant ships were under the control of the Navy, whose Armed Guard Detachment provided the gun crews for the Merchant Marine. As a practical matter the detachments aboard the ships trained the Merchant Mariners in the operation of the ships' defensive weaponry, which were 5 inch cannons, 3 inch cannons, Ma Deuces and (later) 20mm Oerlikons, because if the gun crews took casualties the civilian merchant sailors had to be able to fill in or even take over operating the guns. If you want to see how it really worked, rent a copy of The Navy Comes Through (1942; Pat O'Brien, George Murphy, Jane Wyatt and Jackie Cooper).

    The exception to this was a hangover from peacetime. Each ship would be issued one .38 Special revolver and a box of ammo for each lifeboat officer, usually about 4 pistols per ship. These were kept locked in the Captain's safe until needed. As far as I know, on the few US-flag ships still sailing, that's still the rule.

    I can testify it was the rule up until I came ashore 20 years ago. I would always ask the Old Man if the pistols had been inspected recently, and if I might see them. Most skippers didn't have a problem with my looking at them. The amount of JUNK that I saw, that no one in their right mind would even load, much less shoot, was appalling. I can only recall two ships that had .38s I considered safe to fire - not that I ever had a chance to. And please note that by Federal law, merchant seamen and officers are FORBIDDEN to have privately-owned firearms on board. The gummint must be afraid we'll mutiny or something.
    Last edited: May 29, 2008