1903 Springfield-a great rifle!
One great rifle out there is the American Springfield Model 1903. It is based on the German Mauser of 1898, which is considered by many to be the all-time champion bolt action rifle. Although, some modifications were made on the Springfield to try to avoid infringing on Mauser patents, The USA had to pay $400,000 in royalties to the Mauser firm. No matter, we still ended up with a terrific rifle that lasted through two World Wars and into Korea and Viet Nam. This gun was manufactured from 1903 until 1965.
When the Springfield was introduced, our military weapon was the 30-40 Krag-Jorgenson. It was a good rifle, but slow to reload. So, the Springfield was adopted to take its place. Inasmuch as we were using a 30 caliber rifle, the decision was made to stay with the 30. This new cartridge had a heavy round nosed bullet. It was called the “30 Caliber, 1903. A few years later, the bullet was changed to the familiar “Spitzer” pointed shape and the cartridge was renamed the “30 Caliber, 1906.“ This nomenclature was later shortened to “30-06“ and became one of the 2 most popular centerfire calibers (the other being the famous 30-30) in American shooting history.
The Springfield was made in several variations over the years. Early ones were made with open barrel mounted rear sights. Some that were made during WW2 had receiver mounted aperture (peep) sights. During WW2 some were made with 2 groove barrels.
The Springfield lasted so long because it was a fine weapon. It was not overly heavy, it was accurate (some were used as sniper rifles), it rarely failed and was comfortable to use.
What’s not to like? I once owned one. I wish I still had it. It had been put in a sporting stock, but everything else was pure Springfield.
There is one problem that you have to watch out for. During the early years, metal workers hadn’t learned how to do the best job of heat treating metal in order to strengthen it. Thus it was, that early Springfields can blow up in your face. So, you NEVER want to shoot low-numbered Springfield Rifles. Here are the numbers:
Springfield Armory 800,000
Rock Island Armory 286,506
If you run across a Springfield with numbers lower than these, DON’T shoot it! It is good ONLY for collecting and display. But, if you do get a chance to purchase a “High Number” Springfield, I’m sure that you will get fine service from it.