In order to participate in the GunBroker Member forums, you must be logged in with your account. Click the sign-in button at the top right of the forums page to get connected.

Springfield armory 1903

butlerjbutlerj Member Posts: 66 ✭✭
edited November 2011 in Ask the Experts
My Great Grandfather recently passed away and I acquired a rifle from him. It was a U.S. Springfield Armory 1903. Serial # 334463.

It is missing the rear sights and am curious of which model of the 1903 it is. I have a catalog book from Numrich and can't seem to find anything that looks familiar.


  • nmyersnmyers Member Posts: 16,872 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Based on the serial number, you have an early "Springfield Armory M1903". The rear sight that you need is a "M1903 rear sight". You do not want a "M1903A3 rear sight", as it won't fit your rifle. OTOH, if the rifle has been sporterized you may or may not want to replace the sight. Photos would help us tell you what you have.

    This recent thread will be of interest to you:


    EDIT: This link shows where the rear sight was originally:

    You really need to read the first thread I posted.
  • charliemeyer007charliemeyer007 Member Posts: 6,579 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I think you need to do a search on low numbered springfield's.
  • butlerjbutlerj Member Posts: 66 ✭✭
    edited November -1

    This is a picture of the bolt where the rear sight should be. I don't have a scope to be placed on the rifle yet and would like to have a complete rifle.
  • catpealer111catpealer111 Member Posts: 10,695
    edited November -1
    That rifle's been sporterized at some point so the arsenal original rear sight might not be (probably isn't) the sight you're looking for. Are there any markings on the rear sight base such as "Williams" or "Lyman" on it?
  • HerschelHerschel Member Posts: 2,035 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Sporterized generally means the military stock has been modified from a military configuration or replaced with an aftermarket stock. Sometimes modification of metal parts is included in the sporterization. I say the stock was probably used on another rifle as the mortised and now filled in place just forward of the bolt handle would have been to accommodate the base for a receiver sight. I can see no holes in the receiver to which the sight base would have been mounted. The two holes for mounting the rear sight may have been filled and the receiver refinished but I see no evidence of that. The rear sight appears to be a Lyman but is missing the windage/elevation slide. The maker's name and model of the sight might be stamped on it. It is unusual in that is mounted to the bolt and the original safety has been replaced by one that appears to be an integral part of the sight. There MIGHT be an original military sight base on the barrel just forward of the receiver but I doubt it. Normally sporterizing a rifle degrades it's value but if it is a quality job, which this appears to be, it might enhance the value of the rifle. More photos showing the buttstock, buttplate, pistol grip, forend and front sight will make it possible to make a more accurate evaluation of what you have.

    Drilling and tapping the receiver would greatly diminish the value of the rifle. I would strongly advise against that. The rear sight appears to be an unusual model and finding the windage/elevation slide may be a challenge.

    It is a low number receiver. This means it was tempered with a heat treatment that MIGHT have made the receiver brittle and subject to fracture. The low number receivers are generally considered unsafe to shoot. That is debatable and a search will certainly bring up much and heated discussion on the safety issue.

    At minimum you have a very interesting rifle.
  • MPMP Member Posts: 265 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Stop the press!

    DO NOTHING!!!!!

    You have a prize, write me. I sent you my email.

    That rear sight should say "Hoffman Arms Co."
  • v35v35 Member Posts: 12,710 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    It's the first 1903 Springfield series falling between s/n's 1-800,000.
    That peep sight is floating as it's mounted on the bolt shroud and not rigidly to the receiver or barrel. As such, you probably wont get best accuracy.The sight sounds like it might be a collectible.
    The correct sight for your 1903 is a ladder sight mounted on the barrel over the chamber. If the barrel has been replaced you mightn't
    be able to fit the original rear sight to it.
    Williams made several models of receiver mounted peep sights for your rifle that would make for better accuracy.
    Your receiver is very hard and would have to be locally softened in the area to be drilled and tapped.
    There is a warning out on rifles in this s/n range as a small number have blown up due to what's known as Burnt Steel where some were left in the forging furnace too long, ruining the steel's microstructure.
    Double heat treatment, that was used on the next series (800,000 to 1,275,767),was tried on a test batch of the first series and while it was found to improve physical properties it did NOT improve the burnt steel receivers which still blew up. There is no cure for those receivers so an Army Board recommended the whole lot be destroyed. It was ignored! The rifles went into storage and were later sold.
    As yours didn't just come out of storage but has been used a good bit
    I suspect it might have let go before this if it had burnt steel. I still would use only Moderate loads in it.
  • rufe-snowrufe-snow Member Posts: 18,649 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    The rear sight on your rifle appears to be what is called a "Howe-Whelen combination rear sight/safety". Quite rare, usually found on custom rifles dating to the 20's. They, (the rifles) were made in Cleveland Ohio by the Hoffman Arms Co. Howe was employee/partner? in Hoffman Arms. Whelen was the famous Townsend Whelen.

    If the rifle is in good shape and original condition, might be worth a lot of money to a collector.

    Below is a close up photo of one of the H-W sights, I got off the net.

  • MPMP Member Posts: 265 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    The rifle in question was made at Hoffman Arms Co. in either Cleveland, Ohio or Ardmore, Oklahoma.

    It was stocked by John Dubiel.

    I have talked with the owner and no holes will be drilled into the rifle for a scope.
Sign In or Register to comment.