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From 1903 "Sporter" back to stock..

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    From 1903 "Sporter" back to stock..

    I should start by saying that I am no gunsmith and have none of those skills. I do like to work on old rifles and perform some of the basic repairs and do some simple work on my own
    rifles. Recently I have looked for and found a few 1903 and 1903/A3 rifles that needed help and was able to pick them up for good prices (90.00 to 130.00). This gave me the chance to
    do some work and not be too heavily invested up front.
    I am old enough to have lived through the tail end of the period when these rifles were advertised in magazines for pretty cheap prices, 29.95 and up. I never bought one though many friends did. They tell me about picking up a 1903 for that price, having a hack-saw in the car and heading out hunting right after cutting off the stock of their new rifle, making it "hunting ready". Often these were C stocks... different time, different interests and rifles were seen as a different things. So, there are still many of these out there, some worth putting back together. The ones I choose
    have the original barrels, not cut down and that's the main criteria. It would not be a difficult problem to replace a barrel, just adds a bit to the cost and I pretty much stay away from them.
    That may change as the supply dries up.

    So here's one I'm in the middle of now. The small auction house that had it was very muddy on the details but the photos looked like a 1903, not an A3. The front sight was still in place though not complete so I took a chance that the barrel was correct. You often can't get good info from these small auction houses so there is a real element of risk here. Just have to assume that and hope for the best. This rifle was 90.00 plus auction fees. Having an FFL helps as well.

    I should have taken better photos out of the box but these give an idea, the trigger guard is there, just removed it prior to these photos. Someone had done a rudimentary stock bedding job,
    not much value to it but it did lock the front receiver screw to the receiver. Removing it took some time to say the least but it came out. One of the big rules in bedding a stock is don't lock
    the screws into place. Obviously.

    More as I get the photos..


    Last edited by Bulletguide; 12-26-2016, 05:04 PM.
    Bruce Herrmann
    "Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen."
    Mark Twain

    #2
    So there are always surprises in these cases. Some nicer than others, but it's all about the surprises. This one was interesting. Bad news, it's been drilled and tapped for scope mounts
    on the receiver, it looked like possibly Weaver mount spacing. It checked out to be correct for Weaver bases and drilled the correct depths. The receiver finish is dark park color, clean and
    the stampings look good. The trigger guard and magazine plate were rough, rusty but not pitted. They had to be cleaned. Re-park was the only option after rust removal. No rear sight
    of course, the barrel looks good and after quite a bit of cleaning it looked better than I would have expected. It muzzles at 1 and the chamber is a 2 or 3 so very little wear. Odd for a rifle
    that appears to have seen a lot of use. The front sight base has never been off, the pin nearly invisible as they often are. Some photos...
    Barrel date, 1930


    Top of action in original cut-down stock. The stock was original most likely, some faint stamps still show..


    Serial number matches barrel date, shows positioning groove for rear sight base pin...
    Bruce Herrmann
    "Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen."
    Mark Twain

    Comment


      #3
      Here is the bottom of the barrel near the receiver, proof marked and notch cut for rear sight band to fix to. The rear sight uses an upper pin that is recessed into the barrel and receiver to guide
      the sight into place and that lower notch for the lower anti-rotational pin to fit in.
      I obviously had to make a call on the holes in the receiver. Put screws in them and cut and polish them smooth, engrave them to the surrounding lettering on the forward holes and heat treat
      the screws, then re-park the receiver. I may end up doing that. I decided for now I will install a correct (or nearly so, there are variations) rear sight no matter what I do. I just like the look of that ladder sight and the front top cover in wood which is really distinctive for the 1903.
      So here's the barrel on the bottom side..



      Here the sight assembly with both pins..

      The sight is guided into this upper pin, pretty hard to get it in the wrong position..


      Bruce Herrmann
      "Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen."
      Mark Twain

      Comment


        #4
        So with the rear sight in place it at least starts to look like a 1903 again..



        Some of these 1903's from this era had a black almost painted look to the finish... this one did, I had to clean up some small areas of corrosion but they ended up close to
        that look, probably good enough.

        Bruce Herrmann
        "Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen."
        Mark Twain

        Comment


          #5
          Time to get the stock ready to go. I've been working on this one for some time, I use Tung Oil for most of my military stocks, it's a good finish but you can't rush it. I like to try to fill the pores in the wood, that takes time. This one is ok, not perfect but it should work. I dropped the action in, function checked ok. Headspaces well, closes on go gauge only. Still working on the front
          stock piece, it was a new piece so needed a lot of work. May have that done later this week. Here's some photos of things with the sight bases on the action etc. Not at all sure the sights will stay
          but want to see if they were drilled well enough to mount a scope, will try it and see. If not they go and the holes will be filled...


          Bruce Herrmann
          "Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen."
          Mark Twain

          Comment


            #6
            nice restoration and nice looking stock, if you decide to do much iron sight shooting you might want to try a number 8 or USMC number 10 rear peep

            I have serial 1321534 with a SA 7-29 barrel, stock is JFC and butt is marked MISS (battleship)

            Comment


              #7
              I'm quite sure I will end up shooting iron sights so I appreciate your recommendations. I'm going to start looking for those rear peep sights now. I think I'm just curious to see how
              well the previous owner did drilling and tapping those scope mount holes. I have an A4 and rarely take it out, thought this might be a good 1903 to try with a scope. Since my range has a 200
              yard maximum I don't really think the scope will do much for me. I have a Weaver KV with great, clear optics so will try that. More photos as I get further along.
              Thanks again for the comments.
              Bruce Herrmann
              "Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen."
              Mark Twain

              Comment


                #8
                This is a slow process, the upper handguard was new, never finished wood so required a lot of time to get a finish on it. It's closer now, should have photos shortly.
                I found a proper but plate for it, as I understand it, most of the 1903's had plain but plates, the National Match rifles had checkered plates and a few others but most had these parkerized plain plates. Thought I'd post a photo of this one.

                Bruce Herrmann
                "Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen."
                Mark Twain

                Comment


                  #9
                  Further along now, stock finish work is about done. Have not made a final decision about the scope mounts, most likely will fill them in and re-park the receiver. For now will see how well the
                  mounts were lined up and how the screws fit. More on that next.



                  Bruce Herrmann
                  "Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen."
                  Mark Twain

                  Comment


                    #10
                    A little further along, stock is nearly finished. Not sure about the scope mounts, I think they have to go but I am curious and want to see how well the work was done years ago. The screw
                    holes are correct and threaded properly. The proper Weaver mounts fit well. May place an old scope on it and see what it's like. Then take it back to the proper configuration.



                    Bruce Herrmann
                    "Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen."
                    Mark Twain

                    Comment


                      #11
                      question ? did you use a 1903A3 stock to fit your 1903 barreled action ? Original scant stocks for the 1903A are not that common , but still around. Did you do any special work on the rear tang area as you want some gap.

                      photo shows a 1903A1 scant stock

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I first tried a Keystone stock I had, it was obviously a 1903/A3 as the fit was just ok. The tang area had quite a wide gap around the receiver, obviously not a good fit. I had been keeping this
                        stock for just this kind of project as I knew it was likely a late 1903 stock and it fit perfectly. It will be hard to find another one with that kind of fit for any future projects. It matches the machining of the wood shown in your great looking stock.
                        Bruce Herrmann
                        "Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen."
                        Mark Twain

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I love to see them"come back"from sporterization!

                          Comment


                            #14
                            The 03A3 pictured was a rescue from being a sporterized bubba gun

                            Comment

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