This post was very first published in American Rifleman, November 2002.

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Few arms have actually served the U.S. Army as lengthy or and also the renowned “U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, version 1903.” known as the “Springfield,” or just the “’03,” to several generations the American servicemen and arms enthusiasts, the M1903 has gained an enviable call as among the best bolt-action army rifles of every time. The M1903 was manufactured by Springfield Armory at varying levels of production from 1903 till the late 1930s and at absent Island Arsenal indigenous 1903 until 1913 and also again from 1917 until just after human being War I. Also though big numbers of M1917 “American Enfields” were manufactured and issued during human being War ns to complement the supply of M1903s, the “Springfield ’03” remained the conventional U.S. Military service rifle till the fostering of the semi-automatic M1 “Garand” rifle in 1936. Also after fostering of the M1, however, the ’03 remained the main American business rifle until manufacturing of the Garand might meet the demand.


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

Such was the case at the start of world War II. The disaster at Dunkirk left the brother in very perilous straits as hundreds of badly essential rifles were exit in France once British troops were evacuated to England. Representatives of the British government turned come the United says for the salvation of new arms. Several avenues were explored, consisting of discussions v Remington Arms firm for the production of rifles under british contract. It was suggested that the old M1903 production tooling in storage at rock Island Arsenal be offered to produce rifles because that the British. The U.S. Battle Department agreed to lease Remington the rather worn absent Island ’03 manufacturing tools and provided some 600,000 walnut rifle stock “blanks” additionally in storage. Remington agreed come pay for the share blanks by manufacturing cartridges because that the U.S. Government under future contracts.

The brother desired particular modifications, mostly related to adjustments required to utilize the typical .303 brother cartridge. Other transforms included changing the share (and muzzle) to permit use the the Lee-Enfield No. 4, mark I bayonet and modifying the fixed of the stock to mimic the “hook” form pistol-grip uncovered on the Lee-Enfield. Some alters were reasonably easy to accomplish, and also others were much more involved. The brothers were pushing for brand-new rifles as quickly as possible, and passage of Lend-Lease regulation opened increase other methods of eight procurement. Since the propose Remington .303 rifles to be no longer vitally needed, the british contracts were canceled in September 1941 before any kind of rifles to be manufactured.


The U.S. Model 1903A4 Sniper rifle was based upon the ’03A3 as arisen by Remington to save production prices in ’03 rifle manufacture.

The U.S. Ordnance Department immediately contracted with Remington because that M1903 rifles in bespeak to eight the rapidly widening U.S. Equipped forces. The U.S. Federal government ordered 134,000 M1903s from Remington the same day that the brothers contracts were canceled. By this time, Remington was prepared to go into limited production of M1903s. The firm was assigned the serial number block of “3,000,000 to 3,599,999” for its early production. Ten “trial production” M1903 rifles were developed soon after the contract to be granted, and the first 1,273 manufacturing rifles were ceded in November 1941. These were initially to have been given the “M1903A1” designation, which would have forced full pistol-grip (“Type C”) stocks. However, the big supply of share blanks acquired by Remington were mostly suited because that fabrication the the straight-grip kind of stock, for this reason the M1903 nomenclature was not changed. Interestingly, some internal Remington records during this period refer come the rifles as “M1903 Modified.”

These early on production Remington M1903s were very comparable to the ’03s turned the end by rock Island so late in human being War I, including finely 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 kind of warm treatment as discovered on late production Springfield M1903s. The receiver rings of the brand-new Remington ’03s to be 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 of manufacture. The stocks were stamped through an Ordnance room escutcheon (“crossed cannons”) and also the initials “RLB” top top the left side below the magazine cut-off recess. “RLB” represented Col. Roy L. Bowlin, chief of the Rochester Ordnance District.


Inspector’s cartouches are uncovered on the left next of the stock. The beforehand Remington M1903 and also M1903 “Modified” rifles (r.) were inspected by Col. Roy L. Bowlin, “RLB,” chief of the Rochester Ordnance District. Instead of Bowlin was Col. Open minded J. Atwood, “FJA,” who inspected the bulk of the M1903A3 (below) and also M1903A4 rifles produced by Remington later on in the war. The ’03A3 to be the simplest ’03 variant. Alters were made come speed manufacturing without compromising the accuracy strength and also efficiency the the rifle. Stamped metal materials were provided wherever possible, such together on the trigger guard (l.).

The strike on Pearl Harbor result in boosted orders from the U.S. Federal government for the Remington M1903s. The initial order for 134,000 was boosted to 308,000 and also again increased to 508,000, with a target production rate of 2,000 rifles every day. This substantial increase in need coupled v production difficulties stemming from usage of the almost worn-out rock Island machinery led to something the a dilemma because that Remington if the ambitious manufacturing schedules were to it is in met. Representatives from the Ordnance Department checked out the factory and determined the company was security too much time top top unnecessary or cosmetic features of the rifles. The agency was allowed to minimize the quantity of steel polishing before finishing, reduce or eliminate unnecessary machining and also to relax countless non-critical tolerances. A gas to escape hole to be drilled into the left next of the receiver as had actually been excellent at Springfield Armory due to the fact that 1936.


The milled upper band (top) was used on Reming­ton M1903 and M1903 modified rifles, while the stamped sheet metal upper bands (below) was employed top top M1903A3s.

As Remington’s production continued, an increasing variety of changes were made come the original specifications in the interest of reducing production time. Few of these transforms were not readily noticeable while rather were rather noticeable—such together the remove of the “lightening cuts” ~ above both sides of the rear sight base, the remove of the little gas escape hole on the right side of the receiver and also the drilling that the behind guard screw hole totally through the recipient tang. Authorization was likewise granted to eliminate the “grasping grooves” on the stock and also other functions to minimize production time for the stock and handguard. The use of part stamped contents to change costly and time-consuming milled parts was also instituted. The stamped parts contained the lower barrel band (and tape spring), target swivel, magazine follower and, eventually, a one-piece cause guard/magazine assembly.

By the first quarter that 1942, the changes in the initial specifications were sufficient to result in a rifle the was noticeably various from the early production Remington M1903s. The rifles through the changes were termed the “M1903 Modified” although, as stated, over there is part indication the this term was in usage as early as November 1941. In any kind of event, the “M1903 Modified” designation has actually come right into widespread use now to differentiate the Remingtons that incorporated the manufacturing changes from the original, finely crafted ’03 rifles the were rotate out throughout the first couple of months of production and will be provided in this article to determine this variant from the earlier and also later variants. It should be known that the manufacturing “shortcuts” to be phased in end a duration of time. Several of the previously M1903 modification rifles will certainly have couple of stamped parts and also later production will exhibit an ext stamped components.

Remington turned out M1903 and also M1903 amendment rifles as fast as production permitted, and also they saw usage as maintain rifles and were supplied in combat relatively early in the war. Many of the beforehand production Remington M1903s to be 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 actually been reported that a number of Remington M1903s were used by the U.S. Marine Corps in few of the at an early stage Pacific campaigns.

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


The early on production Remington ’03 rifles resembled late people War I production Rock Island ’03s, together they were produced on the old rock Island tooling. This early on example (top) has a right stock and 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 arising an flexible rear peep sight v some stamped components. The was an installed on the rear of the M1903A3 rifle’s receiver.

In early 1942, it was figured out that production can be boosted even an ext if the rear sight base and related parts might be dispensed with, as these materials required a good deal that time-consuming machining. Remington designers modified the an easy design the the rifle by remove the M1905 pattern rear sight and also replacing it through an adjustable peep sight an installed on the rear of the receiver. The handguard (now termed “barrel guard”) to be lengthened come cover the gap in between the receiver and the top band the the rifle. The rear vision of the M1903A3 rifle was actually a better “battle sight” in numerous ways than M1905 sample sight. In enhancement to the changes made in the rear sight, there was also much more extensive usage of stamped parts. The dramatically modified rifle to be standardized as the “U.S. Rifle, Cal. .30, design of 1903A3” on may 21, 1942. Remington began deliveries that the new variant in December 1942. There to be a duration of time as soon as the firm manufactured the M1903 Modified and the M1903A3 variants concurrently. The last of the M1903 amendment rifles were turned the end in may 1943.

The brand-new rifle was significant “U.S./Remington/Model 03-A3/Serial No.” on the receiver ring. The “03-A3” designation was a little bit unusual as it was basically a colloquial term quite than the official nomenclature because that the rifle. As with the coming before Remington ’03s, the barrel had the “RA” and “flaming bomb” markings as well as the month and also year that production. The left side of the stock was stamped “FJA” (for Col. Frank 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 on the share forward the the trigger guard. The share furniture (one-piece upper band assembly, reduced barrel band, tape spring, sling swivel, buttplate and trigger housing/floorplate assembly) were built of stamped paper metal.

Typical receiver ring markings because that the key three Remington ’03 variants space shown above (left to right): M1903; M1903 “Modified” and M1903A3.

The M1903A3’s stock was similar to the straight grip stock previously utilized v the M1903 Modified but was inletted to expropriate the “barrel guard ring” demanded by the longer handguard. The ’03A3 stocks were also inletted for the M1905 sight as well. In enhancement to the directly grip stock, Remington also manufactured some stocks with semi-pistol grips, often dubbed “scant” or “scant grip” stocks today. The adoption of this pattern stock permitted Remington to utilize numerous of the stock blanks the firm had actually on hand from the abortive brothers rifle production contract. Most, if not all, the the “scant grip” stocks were used for instead of purposes, other than for some that were provided with M1903A4 sniper rifles (to be debated later).

In October 1942, Remington was given permission to produce two-groove barrels for the M1903A3 as prior trial and error at the Aberdeen prove Ground revealed the satisfactory accuracy could be derived with them. Two-groove barrels resulted in decreased manufacturing time and also cost which more boosted the ’03A3s production rate.

With the adoption of the ’03A3, simplification of the M1903 to be taken as far as feasible without adversely affecting the accuracy, strength or performance of the rifle. The rather rough-hewn ’03A3 might be produced much faster and also at a lower price than the earlier rifles, yet boasted a solid action and also a an ext efficient “combat sight” than its predecessors.

Remington obtained ever-increasing orders for ’03A3s, and also the Ordnance room sought secondary source. Come 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 at some point assigned 2 blocks of serial numbers. Smith-Corona did no use every one of the number from the second block. The serial numbers provided by the company went only right into the 4,870,000 range. Remington only offered a relatively couple of serial number from the last block, preventing at the very low 4,200,000 serial number range. There were also some serial numbers offered for M1903A4 sniper rifle production from this last block together well.

Remington (and Smith-Corona) turned the end ever-increasing numbers of M1903A3s, and also they listed valuable use for our quickly expanding armed forces. Many of the rifles were made use of for training functions “stateside,” yet a number to be shipped abroad for issue as supplemental service rifles. Back not offered as combat rifles in extremely big numbers as compared to the M1903 or M1 Garand rifles, M1903A3s absolutely saw combat use in several theaters that the war including the European and also the China-Burma-India theaters. 

M1903A4 Sniper Rifle

The front vision was skipping on ’03A4 rifle barrels, although the milling reduced was current in the occasion that the barrel did no prove perfect for sniping use. Both ’03A3 and also ’03A4 Remington rifle barrels were significant with “RA,” a “flaming bomb” and the month and also year of manufacture.

U.S. Military troops walk not have actually a standardization sniper rifle in perform at the moment of the declaration of war, and also there was increasing demand from abroad for sniper rifles. The need for sniper rifles to be too great to permit lengthy delays in emerging a M1 Garand-based brand-new arm, for this reason the battle Department contracted through Remington because that a sniping version of the M1903 rifle. By this time, the ’03A3 was around to get in production, therefore the specifications were changed to construct a sniping variation of this variant instead. In January 1943, the war Department contracted through Remington for 20,000 sniper rifles based upon the M1903A3. The new rifle was designated “U.S. Rifle, Cal. .30, M1903A4, Sniper’s” and was basically a standard M1903A3 rifle without the front vision attached (although the milling cut were present) fitted through a Redfield “Junior” mountain screwed come the recipient ring and attached to the rear vision dovetail. Interestingly, the “’03-A3” nomenclature stayed on the recipient ring that the brand-new M1903A4 sniper rifle back this marking was applied to the too much left that the recipient ring and also the serial number stamped top top the extreme right next which allowed both markings to be plainly visible v the Redfield mountain in place.

As the M1903A4 was recently the topic of an post in these pages (“Making The many of G.I. Marksmanship: The M1903A4,” January 2002, p. 56), the discussion here will be restricted to the rifles themselves rather than the optics and mounts offered on them. The’03A4’s bolt handle was concavely forged to provide clearance because that telescopic sight, and also the stock to be inletted come accommodate the bolt handle. beforehand production M1903A4 rifles had actually four-groove barrels, however this was soon readjusted to two-groove barrels, and the bulk of them had actually the latter. Many ’03A4s had full pistol tight (“Type C”) share but, together stated, some were also delivered through the “scant grip” stock. The markings ~ above the stocks were identical to those of M1903A3s that the same vintage, and the only real difference was the inletting because that the concave bolt handle. Few of the “Type C” stocks were offered by Springfield Armory (stamped “S” in the cut-off recess) and also some later stocks to be procured native the Keystone firm (stamped “K” in the exact same location).

Remington was at first assigned the serial number block of 3,407,088-3,427,087 because that ’03A4 production. In June 1943, the Ordnance room ordered secondary 8,365 ’03A4 rifles indigenous 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 also the M1903A4 rifles in this selection had a “Z” prefix to the serial number in order to prevent duplicate numbers.

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

Following the conclusion of human being War II, huge numbers of M1903s and also M1903A3s were refurbished (overhauled) in ~ a variety of ordnance facilities. Countless were subsequently marketed via the auspices the the manager of Civilian Marksmanship (DCM) and given far to allied nations under assorted military assist programs. Recently, the Civilian Marksmanship Program derived a sizeable quantity of M1903s, including a number of Remington M1903, M1903 Modified and M1903A3 rifles, and offered them for sale come qualified individuals.

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While not provided in big numbers during people War II as compared to the M1 Garand, the Remington rifles provided our armed forces v a bad needed source of reliable and also serviceable military rifles. Countless are not conscious of the rifles the this type turned out by Remington during human being War II. However, the Remington rifles were every little as valuable and serviceable as the ’03s the were do by the government-owned and -operated entities of Springfield Armory or rock Island Arsenal.