The 1903 Springfield rifle was developed after US experience in the Spanish-American war of 1898 when the US Krag rifle was found wanting against the Spanish 1893 model Mauser. The 03 was initially developed in cal 30.03 & utilized a rod bayonet permanently attached to the rifle, Pres. T. Roosevelt personally ordered the rod bayonet be changed & the rifle was modified to use a knife type bayonet in 1905, in 1906 a newer cartridge, the 30.06 was standardized. Most 03's in 30.03 were modified to use the 06 cartridge & very few in 30.03 remain. The 03 Springfield was essentially an unlicensed version of the 1898 Mauser action.
Date(s): NEW 3/29/09. Album by willyp. Photos by willyp. 1 - 45 of 45 Total. 2549 Visits.
WWI era 03 Springfield w/accs. Shown is a very early Rock Island Arsenal (RIA) 03 Springfield, 15xxx serial range mfg 1904 or 1905 in 30.03. These barreled actions were first assembled to 1905 specs & then modified, this particular example in 1917-1918 to current WWI specs. Shown is the rifle w/M1917 action cover, early oiler/thong case, spare parts container, leather/brass 1907 sling, early front sight cover, mills belt (this particular example is a 42 Hoyt mfg example), & the very rare 25rd extended magazine.
03 Springfield rifle Right side view of the basic WWI era 1903 Springfield rifle w/no accs. Some identifying characteristics of WWI era are straight comb stock, 2 recoil lugs, concave "humped" handguard & straight bolt handle.
03 fitted with accessories Here the rifle is shown with the 1907 model leather sling, front sight cover & the 25rd magazine.
03 Buttstock, right side Stock made from American black walnut, pre 1940's 03 stocks had straight grip areas the 03 stocks w/pistol grip style didn't begin mfg until then.
03 action right side Note 2 stock recoil bolts, blued bolt w/straight contour handle.
Receiver marking There were 2 makers of the 03 thru the 30's, Springfield Arsenal (SA) & Rock Island Arsenal (RIA), many more were mfg at SA than RIA. This rifle was one of the first years mfg at RIA (18,000), & wasn't completed until 1906-1908, it was originally mfg in 30.03 & may have been modified to 30.06 before being completed. It was then rearsenaled at SA to bring it up to WWI specs 1917-1918.
Rear sight base right side This sight base is the post 1908 variant, prior to that the sight bases were open on the bottom.
Rear sight base bottom Post 1908 were smooth/complete along the bottom, earlier pattern had an oval shape cutout.
Rear sight right side Early sight knobs, 2850yd sight, note the concave shape of the handguard w/small round cutout for the windage knob in handguard & the sloping shape of the wood line under the gas escape hole, early pattern stocks were straight in the is area & had no (at first) then 1 recoil lug.
Rear sight top view here you can see the cutout in the handguard for the sight view & the rounded cut on the right side for the windage knob.
Forend, right side Shape of handguard "hump" can be seen, later guns used a straighter non concave form in this area, also the 2 metal clips on the handguard, post 1911 feature.
Right side muzzle with front sight cover The front sight cover was an accessory that clipped over the front sight from the top, early versions did NOT have the US & flaming bomb marking (these mkgs were WW2 era).
Top of barrel-front sight Very early 03 production rifles were not marked here w/the date & arsenal of mfg, after 1905-6 the month/year & flaming bomb were stamped in this location, the lack of markings on this example indicates this is the original barrel for the receiver, originally chambered for 30.03 & subsequently modified to 30.06.
Right side without sight cover This view shows the muzzle area w/sight cover removed allowing a view of the front sight.
Left side front sight
Left side with cover on
Left view, forend
Top of handguard There is a thin crack in the middle of the handguard which doesn't go thru to the bottom.
Left view rear sight The winage knob, closest to the handguard is the smaller diameter variant.
Rear sight left side
Stock, trigger cut out Style cut used from 1910-1930's
Left action view Note again the sloping contour of the woodline under the receiver ring (post 1908), the cutoff cutout is stamped w/a small o, the cutoff & safety have non-seriff letters (post 1908) & the trigger is the early style, full countour w/serrations along it's face & checkering at the bottom end across the serrations.
Stock wrist markings The markings on the wrist area of this rifle are, WJS in a box (bottom slightly worn down) which is a RIA final inspectors stamp which would have been when the rifle was first completed at RIA in 1906-1908, the second marking, S.A. D.A.L. is actually 2 seperate markings, SA indicates rework at Springfield Arsenal, DAL is a final inspectors mkg which dates to 1917-1918, WJS was stamped on final approval of assembly of the original rifle at RIA (1906-1908), SA DAL was applied when the rifle was rearsenaled at SA in 1917-1918 & brought up to WWI specs for service in the war.
Stock wrist markings Bottom of the stock, wrist area just behind trigger guard, the rear P in a circle would be the final proof stamp from when the rifle was initially assembled (1906-1908) & tested, the front P in a circle is the final proof mark from rearsenal at SA in 1917-1918.
Left upper view rear action area Showing the magazine cutoff, safety & cocking piece.
Left side buttstock
Buttplate top screw Crack on left-front of upper buttplate screw.
Buttplate The buttplate had a trapdoor which allowed access to either an oiler/thong case or a spare parts container which were issued w/each alternate rifle in a squad. This particular buttplate is smooth which is a WWI era mod, earlier plates were checkered & after WWI the checkered type was brought back into mfg.
Plate open with oiler/thong case A pic of the nickeled brass oiler/thong case (note the leather center on the end to reduce noise).
Early oiler/thong container These were nickeled brass had screw tops at both ends, one section held the brush & pull thru tong the other held oiler w/a tip for application on the cap. The small leather insert in the cap can be seen here.
Plate with spare parts container These very rare accessories were made of walnut & held a spare cocking piece, extractor & striker, 1 rifleman would be issued an oiler/thong the next a spare parts container. The cutout in the stock of the WWI & earlier rifles had a cut in the bottom to fit the extension of the cocking piece.
Spare parts container Two views of the spare parts container showing the cocking piece in & out of the container, the extractor & striker are not shown, note the "extension" on the cocking piece protruding from the parts container which required the aforementioned cutout in the bottom of the recess in the buttstock.
Left view with 25rd trench mag The rifle is shown here fitted w/the 07 sling, sight cover & the trench mag. These mags were often id'd as being for the lightened "air service" version of the 03 but were most probably developed for trench use, both the Germans & British mfg & used lg capacity mags for their rifles in WWI & this mag was most probably designed & made for the same purpose, none of the large capacity mags for the 03, SMLE, P14, or Gew98's were particularly successful, all are very rare items to find today.
O3 left view
Lower band & mag components Shown are the follower, mag spring & floorplate & the split lower band, all WWI era variants.
Right action with 25rd mag The US mag is 25rd rounds, the British & German models were 20, all proved to be too long & cumbersome for the trench warfare of the First World War.
US 25 rd trech mag Shown are bottom, front, rear, right, left & top (w/follower/spring retainer plate) views. The retainer plate was fitted to the mag to keep the follower & spring inside the mag, it would be removed prior to affixing the mag to the rifle.
Trench mag assembly Here the mag is shown disassembled, on left is the floorplate/spring retainer, to the right the mag body, spring & follower.
Left action view with trench mag. Obvious to see the difficulty using one of these in the confined area of a dugout trech!
1907 pattern leather/brass sling Standard US rifle sling beginning WWI, the 1907 was made of leather w/brass hooks (later mfg used steel), it's an excellent "rifleman's" sling & can be used to steady the rifle when firing, it's still mfg & used today, the leather didn't hold up well in WWI conditions though & this led to the eventual developement & use of canvas/web/nylon slings.
1917 action cover View of the 03 with the Model 1917 action cover affixed. This cover was actually designed for the US M1917 rifle but was also issued/used w/the 03 Springfield, it's tight on the 03 but is official issue w/it. it's a web/canvas cover w/4 snaps on the side, there are 2 holes for a leather thong (not on this cover) which would then be tied to the upper sling swivel.
M1917 action cover markings Markings on this example are on the inside of the cover, ink stamped A.E.L. Co. 9-18, F-12.
M1917 action cover snap detail
Left view w/action on
03 front sight covers 2 pics showing Left: early 03 sight cover, no markings other than a number on left side Right: later (WW2) cover, stamped US, faming bomb on 1 side, R in circle (for Remington mfg) on the other.