Educational Zone #68 – Great Firearms – The 1903-A3 Springfield Rifle

I have long admired the Springfield 1903-A3 rifle.

I looked for an example to add to my collection for many years.

I saw a lot of good examples, but I wanted a really nice one.

Then one year at the Big Houston Gun Show, I finally found the one I wanted and it was at a great price.

I snatched it up!


Here it is.

The Springfield bolt action rifle, caliber .30-06, was developed in 1903 for use by the U.S. Military.

It originally had a set of partridge sights, but these were later replaced by an aperture sight (also called peep sights) and this model was called the 1903-A3.

This was the main battle rifle for the U. S. from 1903 until 1936, when it was replaced by the M-1 Garand rifle.

My rifle is an excellent example, which I have not refinished in any way. It is a rifle made by Remington and is marked as such above the chamber.


It has an absolutely new barrel that is marked “7-43” to show that it was put on the rifle in July, 1943.

As a person who has pushed many thousands of patches down barrels, I can assure you that this barrel is a perfect barrel.

These rifles were originally made in caliber .30-03, and had a 220 grain bullet that was pushed to around 2,300 fps.

But in 1906, the U.S. Military switched to the wonderful .30-06 Ball, which pushed a 150 grain spitzer bullet to around 2,800 fps. The .30-06 is one of the best cartridges ever invented.


Let’s look at the rifle. The front sight is a high blade type sight.


The rear sight on the Model 1903-A3 is an aperture with both windage and elevation adjustments.

It is also located farther back on the rifle giving a longer sight radius than the 1903 Model.


There is a lever on the side that allows the magazine to be “cut off”.

This was desired by military officers that feared that the troops would “waste the ammo” in their magazines and be unprepared in case of a charge by the enemy.

When the lever is marked OFF, you can only single load the rifle one round at a time.


When the lever is up and shows ON, it will feed from the 5-shot magazine.


The Safety is simple and straightforward. When is flipped to the right, you can read “Safe” on the lever.


When the lever is flipped to the left, you can read “Ready” on the lever.


The rifle can be loaded with a 5-round stripper clip.


This method of reloading is very quick, once mastered.


The rifle is a real pleasure to shoot.

It kicks a little, but hey…. it’s a battle rifle.


The extractor is a “positive feed” type, meaning that the extractor grabs the rim of the round as it feeds into the chamber and holds it tight.

Working the action sharply will positively eject the empty case.


The rifle even has a neat little chamber in the butt to store an oiler.


These heavy rifles were also supplied with a bayonet and I put mine on my rifle to show how they looked.

This one was given to me by a friend on

It is a shortened bayonet, which was shortened from around 16 inches to around 9 inches, a very common practice by U.S. troops.

In the days of magazine fed, 5 shot rifles, a bayonet was considered to be a necessity in case your position was over run.


Here I am shooting it unsupported, on my hind legs. As you can see, it kicks a little.

Here I am shooting it unsupported, on my hind legs. As you can see, it kicks a little.

Here is a typical 3-shot group at 50 yards, shot by my buddy Boyd today.

Here is a typical 3-shot group at 50 yards, shot by my buddy Boyd today.

The 1903-A3 Springfield was used all the way into the Vietnam War as a sniper rifle, when outfitted with a scope.

It was an excellent sniper rifle.

The 1903-A3 Springfield, a true Rifleman’s Rifle.



A great firearm.

4 Comments on Educational Zone #68 – Great Firearms – The 1903-A3 Springfield Rifle

  1. I liked the writeup with the exception that the barrel is stamped when it was made. Not necessarily when it was installed on the rifle.

  2. Mark Schmidt // April 16, 2016 at 5:01 pm // Reply

    I found THE ’03 for me, by accident while looking for something else. Mine is the ’03, not the A3, made in 1918, but fitted with a 1943 barrel and set up like a WWII USMC Springfield. The Garand was issued to the Army starting in 1936, but the Marines got the tail end, and Guadalcanal and other early Pacific Island battles were fought using the old 03 Springfield. Some Marines kept theirs over the M1 which they did not trust… They have s slightly different front sight and many have a hand-stippled butt plate for better non slip grip on the shoulder while firing. Mine has all that, but I hear the ’43 barrel makes it not authentic…but I have it now and I don’t care…and for what I paid for it, I stole it. Nice, classic US rifle.

  3. Just picked up a 1903A3 myself, it feels a lot lighter than it looks. Compared to my 1917 it feels even lighter yet.

    Minor correction the it was the 1903A4 that served as a sniper rifle, there are few differences in the two but enough to warrant the change in name.

  4. Bruce Metcalf // May 7, 2017 at 6:31 am // Reply

    My Dad told me he used one in Army Basic in 1942 and remarked that it kicked hard.

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