Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sporterized M1903-A3

A while back I was wandering through my gun store, and took a look at their bargain rack.  They usually have a couple of Mosin's and the occasional Enfield there.  One old rifle was mixed in with the used muzzleloaders and such, and something about it caught my eye.  After taking a good look, I realized what I had:  A sporterized M1903, with an asking price of $225.

Closer inspection showed that it was a Smith Corona M1903-A3.

WECSOG.  Some things will just make a man cry
A previous owner had drilled and tapped it a couple of times, finally settling on a Weaver side mount and a scope of unknown manufacture and quality.  Almost all of the markings on the scope were worn away.  Other than the holes in the receiver, the rifle appears to be in good shape.  The finish is pretty thin on much of the gun.  There is a bit of surface rust here and there, but I can't find any pitting.

The person who sporterized it didn't cut the barrel, so the original arsenal marks are still there:

The arsenal mark says "SC above the Ordnance Corps Symbol above "4  43"

Not sure what the "U" mark on the bolt means

Finish on the bolt is spotty, but not bad
I tried to get pictures of the bore, but couldn't get the camera to cooperate.  It's shiny, and the grooves in the rifling are sharp.    My guess is that the gun was brought out of the cabinet every so often, fired at the range or at a deer, then cleaned up and put back in the cabinet.

Here's an indication of how long ago the sporterizing was done:

1976 Bi-Centennial Quarter embedded in an old RedHead stock.
The glue holding it in has turned yellow with age.
So what are my plans for it?  In the near term, I'm going to give it a good cleaning, put a better scope on it, and use it for my deer rifle.  Assuming of course, that it still shoots well.  It seems to be mechanically OK, and the trigger is pretty good for a mil-surp.  There's about 1/4 inch of easy travel back to a stopping point, then another 1/8 inch against resistance to where it breaks.   Next, I need to get a manual on how to care for it that shows all of the parts that I'll need for restoration.  As time and money permit, I'm going to collect all of the parts I need to put original-ish furniture and sights on it. I'll see if I can get a gunsmith to fill in the holes that are drilled in the receiver, then see about getting it re-parkerized.  I'll be sure to mark it in such a way that no-one will confuse it with a collectible gun, though.  No amount of restoration will make this more than a shooter, and a serious collector would notice it right away.  However, I don't want one of my grandchildren to sell it to someone and both of them be unaware that it's not original.

I talked the clerk at the store down to $200, which is less than CMP was selling M1903 actions for when I was up there last summer.  I figure I'll have to put another $200 in parts on her, then another couple of hundred or so to get her assembled, repaired, and re-parkerized.  Not bad, considering how rare and expensive even an abused M1903 is getting these days.

So, I guess I've got my first project gun.  I won't be able to restore it soon due to money constraints, but as I see parts that I can afford, I'll pick them up and squirrel them away.  Hopefully by the time Girlie Bear heads off to college, I'll have what I need and the money to get it done up right.  The first .30-06 I ever fired was a sporterized 1903, and I've always wanted one.  Now my goal is to reverse the sporterizing as much as possible and restore this beauty to as close as original as I can.


MrGarabaldi said...

I have an Springfield 03A3, still has the origional furniture. I picked up in Germany from a collector. I paid 200 DM for it. It still is one of my favorite shooters. I havn't fired it in a couple of years though. Those guns are neat and they go up in value, and there is something about owning a piece of history.

DaddyBear said...

Sweet, MrG! I don't expect that this will go up much in value no matter what I do to it, but having one to shoot will be even better.

MrGarabaldi said...

Having a "working" gun is better than one that sits in the safe because you are afraid to fire it for hurting its value. That ain't what guns are for. They are to have fun with. and if necessary, defend the home and hearth.

Old NFO said...

You'll enjoy that one, and it WILL become one of your favorites!

Mad Jack said...

Smith-Corona, not your little sister's typewriter.

What an excellent find! I'm envious...

Vote For David said...

I shot a LOT of pictures of the insides of gun barrels for work, and came up with a guide to help those who would come after me. Then I put it online for you:


DaddyBear said...

Thanks Vote for David! I'll give that a whirl!

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