This write-up was an initial published in American Rifleman, November 2002.

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Few arms have served the U.S. Military as long or and also the famous “U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, version 1903.” recognized as the “Springfield,” or simply the “’03,” to several generations that American servicemen and also arms enthusiasts, the M1903 has got an enviable reputation as among the ideal bolt-action armed forces rifles of all time. The M1903 was produced by Springfield Armory at differing levels of production from 1903 till the so late 1930s and also at rock Island Arsenal native 1903 until 1913 and also again native 1917 until just after human being War I. Also though huge numbers of M1917 “American Enfields” were manufactured and also issued during human being War i to supplement the supply of M1903s, the “Springfield ’03” stayed the typical U.S. Military business rifle till the adoption of the semi-automatic M1 “Garand” rifle in 1936. Also after fostering of the M1, however, the ’03 continued to be the main American business rifle until manufacturing of the Garand could meet the demand.


Though not provided in as big numbers as the M1 Garand, Remington ’03s listed valuable organization to our equipped forces during world War II.

Such was the situation at the start of world War II. The catastrophe at Dunkirk left the brothers in exceptionally perilous straits as thousands of badly required rifles were abandoned in France as soon as British troops to be evacuated come England. Representatives of the British government turned come the United claims for the salvation of brand-new arms. Several methods were explored, consisting of discussions with Remington Arms agency for the manufacturing of rifles under british contract. It was said that the old M1903 manufacturing tooling in warehouse at rock Island Arsenal be supplied to create rifles because that the British. The U.S. War Department agreed to lease Remington the rather worn rock Island ’03 manufacturing tools and noted some 600,000 walnut rifle share “blanks” also in storage. Remington agreed to pay because that the share blanks by manufacturing cartridges for the U.S. Federal government under future contracts.

The british desired specific modifications, generally related to adjustments required to make use of the standard .303 brother cartridge. Other alters included altering the stock (and muzzle) to allow use the the Lee-Enfield No. 4, mark I bayonet and modifying the tight of the share to mimic the “hook” form pistol-grip found on the Lee-Enfield. Some transforms were reasonably easy come accomplish, and others were much more involved. The brothers were pressing for brand-new rifles as shortly as possible, and passage the Lend-Lease legislation opened up other methods of eight procurement. Because the proposed Remington .303 rifles to be no longer vitally needed, the british contracts were canceled in September 1941 before any type of rifles were manufactured.


The U.S. Model 1903A4 Sniper rifle was based on the ’03A3 as developed by Remington to conserve production prices in ’03 rifle manufacture.

The U.S. Ordnance Department instantly contracted v Remington for M1903 rifles in order to arm the rapidly expanding U.S. Armed forces. The U.S. Government ordered 134,000 M1903s from Remington the very same day that the british contracts were canceled. By this time, Remington was all set to go into limited production of M1903s. The firm to be assigned the serial number block of “3,000,000 come 3,599,999” for its early stage production. Ten “trial production” M1903 rifles were developed soon ~ the contract was granted, and the an initial 1,273 production rifles were delivered in November 1941. This were initially to have actually been given the “M1903A1” designation, which would certainly have compelled full pistol-grip (“Type C”) stocks. However, the huge supply of stock blanks gained by Remington were mainly suited because that fabrication that the straight-grip kind of stock, therefore the M1903 nomenclature was no changed. Interestingly, some interior Remington records during this duration refer to the rifles as “M1903 Modified.”

These early production Remington M1903s were very comparable to the ’03s turned the end by absent Island so late in civilization War I, including carefully finished straight-grip (“Type S”) stocks with “grasping grooves” and handguards through a significant sight-protecting “hump.” They to be well-crafted, perfect in black-tinted Parkerizing and utilized the same form of heat treatment as discovered on late manufacturing Springfield M1903s. The receiver ring of the new Remington ’03s were stamped “U.S./Remington/Model 1903/Serial No.,” and also the barrels were significant “RA” (Remington Arms) in enhancement to the month and also year the manufacture. The stocks were stamped through an Ordnance department escutcheon (“crossed cannons”) and also the initials “RLB” on the left side below the magazine cut-off recess. “RLB” represented Col. Roy L. Bowlin, chef of the Rochester Ordnance District.


Inspector’s cartouches are discovered on the left next of the stock. The early Remington M1903 and M1903 “Modified” rifles (r.) were inspected by Col. Roy L. Bowlin, “RLB,” cook of the Rochester Ordnance District. Replacing Bowlin to be Col. Open minded J. Atwood, “FJA,” that inspected the bulk of the M1903A3 (below) and also M1903A4 rifles created by Remington later in the war. The ’03A3 to be the easiest ’03 variant. Transforms were made come speed production without compromising the accuracy strength and efficiency the the rifle. Stamped metal components were provided wherever possible, such as on the cause guard (l.).

The assault on Pearl Harbor result in enhanced orders indigenous the U.S. Federal government for the Remington M1903s. The early stage order because that 134,000 was increased to 308,000 and also again elevated to 508,000, through a target manufacturing rate of 2,000 rifles every day. This vast increase in need coupled with production problems stemming from use of the nearly worn-out rock Island machinery resulted in something the a dilemma because that Remington if the ambitious production schedules were to be met. To represent from the Ordnance Department saw the factory and also determined the company was security too lot time top top unnecessary or cosmetic features of the rifles. The firm was allowed to reduce the lot of steel polishing prior to finishing, mitigate or get rid of unnecessary machining and to relax numerous non-critical tolerances. A gas escape hole was drilled into the left side of the recipient as had actually been excellent at Springfield Armory due to the fact that 1936.


The milled upper band (top) was provided on Reming­ton M1903 and M1903 modification rifles, while the stamped sheet steel upper bands (below) to be employed top top M1903A3s.

As Remington’s production continued, one increasing variety of changes to be made come the initial specifications in the interest of reducing manufacturing time. Some of these transforms were not readily noticeable while rather were fairly noticeable—such as the remove of the “lightening cuts” ~ above both sides of the rear sight base, the removed of the tiny gas escape feet on the best side the the receiver and the drilling that the behind guard screw hole fully through the recipient tang. Authorization was additionally granted to get rid of the “grasping grooves” on the stock and other functions to mitigate production time because that the stock and also handguard. The usage of some stamped contents to replace costly and also time-consuming milled components was likewise instituted. The stamped parts consisted of the reduced barrel band (and tape spring), target swivel, newspaper follower and, eventually, a one-piece trigger guard/magazine assembly.

By the very first quarter of 1942, the changes in the original specifications were adequate to result in a rifle the was noticeably different from the at an early stage production Remington M1903s. The rifles v the alters were termed the “M1903 Modified” although, as stated, over there is part indication that this term was in use as early on as November 1941. In any type of event, the “M1903 Modified” designation has actually come into widespread use today to differentiate the Remingtons that incorporated the manufacturing adjustments from the original, carefully crafted ’03 rifles that were rotate out throughout the first few months of production and also will be used in this short article to determine this variant from the earlier and later variants. It have to be well-known that the manufacturing “shortcuts” to be phased in end a period of time. Some of the earlier M1903 modification rifles will have few stamped parts and later manufacturing will exhibit more stamped components.

Remington turned the end M1903 and M1903 modified rifles as rapid as manufacturing permitted, and they saw usage as maintain rifles and were offered in combat fairly early in the war. Most of the at an early stage production Remington M1903s were diverted come military help requirements similar to “Lend-Lease” for our republic allies, and many of these rifles were sent to brand-new Zealand forces. It has been reported that a variety of Remington M1903s were used by the U.S. Marine Corps in some of the at an early stage Pacific campaigns.

Even though the Remington ’03 rifles shown a variety of manufacturing shortcuts, they own a strong action, and all of them space in the “high number” category. 


The early production Remington ’03 rifles resembled late civilization War I manufacturing Rock Island ’03s, as they were produced on the old rock Island tooling. This early on example (top) has actually a right stock and also grasping grooves in the fore-end. The M1903 “Modified” (center) to be a transitionary variant between the 1903 and also the ’03A3 and ’03A4.
Remington had the ability to save production time by developing an adjustable rear peep sight through some stamped components. It was mounted on the behind of the M1903A3 rifle’s receiver.

In beforehand 1942, it was established that production could be boosted even more if the rear sight base and also related parts could be dispensed with, as these components required a great deal of time-consuming machining. Remington designers modified the straightforward design of the rifle by eliminating the M1905 pattern behind sight and replacing it through an flexible peep sight an installed on the rear of the receiver. The handguard (now termed “barrel guard”) was lengthened to cover the gap between the receiver and the top band of the rifle. The rear vision of the M1903A3 rifle was in reality a far better “battle sight” in plenty of ways than M1905 pattern sight. In enhancement to the transforms made in the rear sight, there was also much more extensive usage of stamped parts. The substantially modified rifle to be standardized as the “U.S. Rifle, Cal. .30, version of 1903A3” on may 21, 1942. Remington started deliveries the the new variant in December 1942. There was a period of time when the firm manufactured the M1903 Modified and the M1903A3 variants concurrently. The critical of the M1903 modified rifles to be turned out in may 1943.

The brand-new rifle was marked “U.S./Remington/Model 03-A3/Serial No.” ~ above the receiver ring. The “03-A3” designation was a little unusual as it was basically a colloquial term quite than the official nomenclature for the rifle. Just like the preceding Remington ’03s, the barrel had actually the “RA” and also “flaming bomb” markings and also the month and year of production. The left next of the stock to be stamped “FJA” (for Col. Open minded J. Atwood), “RA” (Remington Arms) and also the “crossed cannons” Ordnance room escutcheon. A circled “P” proof note was stamped on the tight behind the create guard, and various cryptic Remington internal inspection markings to be stamped top top the stock forward that the create guard. The share furniture (one-piece upper band assembly, lower barrel band, band spring, sling swivel, buttplate and trigger housing/floorplate assembly) were constructed of stamped paper metal.

Typical recipient ring markings because that the main three Remington ’03 variants room shown over (left come right): M1903; M1903 “Modified” and also M1903A3.

The M1903A3’s share was similar to the directly grip stock formerly utilized v the M1903 Modified but was inletted to accept the “barrel guard ring” necessitated by the much longer handguard. The ’03A3 share were also inletted for the M1905 sight as well. In enhancement to the directly grip stock, Remington additionally manufactured some stocks through semi-pistol grips, often called “scant” or “scant grip” share today. The fostering of this pattern stock allowed Remington come utilize plenty of of the share blanks the firm had on hand native the abortive brothers rifle manufacturing contract. Most, if no all, that the “scant grip” share were made use of for instead of purposes, other than for part that were used with M1903A4 sniper rifles (to be debated later).

In October 1942, Remington was offered permission to develop two-groove barrels because that the M1903A3 as prior experimentation at the Aberdeen proving Ground revealed that satisfactory accuracy might be acquired with them. Two-groove barrels resulted in reduced manufacturing time and cost which additional boosted the ’03A3s production rate.

With the adoption of the ’03A3, simplification of the M1903 was taken as far as feasible without adversely affect the accuracy, strength or effectiveness of the rifle. The quite rough-hewn ’03A3 might be produced much faster and also at a lower expense than the previously rifles, yet boasted a solid action and a more efficient “combat sight” 보다 its predecessors.

Remington received ever-increasing orders because that ’03A3s, and also the Ordnance department sought an additional source. To this end, the Smith-Corona Typewriter firm was granted a contract for production of M1903A3s. The Smith-Corona ’03A3s were essentially identical to your Remington counterparts other than for markings. Smith-Corona was eventually assigned two blocks that serial numbers. Smith-Corona did not use all of the number from the 2nd block. The serial numbers supplied by the firm went only right into the 4,870,000 range. Remington only offered a relatively few serial numbers from the final block, protecting against at the very low 4,200,000 serial number range. Over there were likewise some serial numbers provided for M1903A4 sniper rifle production from this final block as well.

Remington (and Smith-Corona) turned the end ever-increasing numbers of M1903A3s, and they listed valuable usage for our rapidly expanding armed forces. Countless of the rifles were utilized for training purposes “stateside,” however a number to be shipped overseas for issue as supplemental service rifles. Return not used as combat rifles in extremely large numbers as compared to the M1903 or M1 Garand rifles, M1903A3s definitely saw combat use in several theaters the the war consisting of the European and also the China-Burma-India theaters. 

M1903A4 Sniper Rifle

The front sight was omitted on ’03A4 rifle barrels, although the milling cut was current in the occasion that the barrel did not prove an ideal for sniping use. Both ’03A3 and also ’03A4 Remington rifle barrels were significant with “RA,” a “flaming bomb” and also the month and also year the manufacture.

U.S. Military troops go not have actually a standardized sniper rifle in list at the moment of the explanation of war, and also there was increasing demand from overseas for sniper rifles. The need for sniper rifles was too an excellent to permit lengthy delays in arising a M1 Garand-based new arm, so the war Department contracted v Remington because that a sniping version of the M1903 rifle. Through this time, the ’03A3 was around to go into production, for this reason the specifications were readjusted to construct a sniping variation of this variant instead. In January 1943, the war Department contracted v Remington because that 20,000 sniper rifles based upon the M1903A3. The brand-new rifle to be designated “U.S. Rifle, Cal. .30, M1903A4, Sniper’s” and was usually a standard M1903A3 rifle without the front sight attached (although the milling cut were present) fitted v a Redfield “Junior” mount screwed come the recipient ring and also attached come the rear sight dovetail. Interestingly, the “’03-A3” nomenclature stayed on the recipient ring that the brand-new M1903A4 sniper rifle although this noting was used to the extreme left that the recipient ring and also the serial number stamped on the too much right side which allowed both markings to be plainly visible v the Redfield mountain in place.

As the M1903A4 was recently the subject of an write-up in this pages (“Making The most of G.I. Marksmanship: The M1903A4,” January 2002, p. 56), the conversation here will certainly be limited to the rifles themselves quite than the optics and mounts supplied on them. The’03A4’s bolt take care of was concavely forged to administer clearance because that telescopic sight, and the stock was inletted to accommodate the bolt handle. beforehand production M1903A4 rifles had four-groove barrels, but this to be soon readjusted to two-groove barrels, and the mass of them had actually the latter. Most ’03A4s had full pistol grip (“Type C”) share but, together stated, part were likewise delivered with the “scant grip” stock. The markings on the stocks were the same to those that M1903A3s the the very same vintage, and also the just real difference was the inletting for the concave bolt handle. Several of the “Type C” stocks were supplied by Springfield Armory (stamped “S” in the cut-off recess) and also some later stocks were procured indigenous the Keystone agency (stamped “K” in the same location).

Remington was originally assigned the serial number block that 3,407,088-3,427,087 because that ’03A4 production. In June 1943, the Ordnance department ordered second 8,365 ’03A4 rifles from Remington. The company was assigned the serial number block the 4,000,001-4,015,000 because that the added ’03A4 rifles. However, M1903A3 rifle production expanded into this block that numbers and the M1903A4 rifles in this range had a “Z” prefix to the serial number in bespeak to avoid duplicate numbers.

Remington ceased production of the M1903A3 in February 1944 and continued with M1903A4 manufacturing until June the the same year. By the time manufacture ceased, Remington had yielded 348,085 M1903 and also M1903 modified Rifles, 707,629 M1903A3 Rifles and also 28,365 M1903A4 Rifles. (Smith-Corona manufactured an additional 233,998 ’03A3s).

Following the conclusion of civilization War II, big numbers the M1903s and M1903A3s were refurbished (overhauled) in ~ a number of ordnance facilities. Many were subsequently marketed via the auspices that the director of Civilian Marksmanship (DCM) and also given far to allied nations under miscellaneous military help programs. Recently, the Civilian Marksmanship Program acquired a sizeable quantity of M1903s, consisting of a variety of Remington M1903, M1903 Modified and also M1903A3 rifles, and offered them because that sale come qualified individuals.

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While not offered in large numbers during people War II as compared to the M1 Garand, the Remington rifles listed our equipped forces with a bad needed resource of reliable and also serviceable army rifles. Numerous are not mindful of the rifles the this form turned the end by Remington during human being War II. However, the Remington rifles to be every little bit as beneficial and serviceable together the ’03s the were made by the government-owned and -operated reality of Springfield Armory or rock Island Arsenal.