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Help with 1903 that has no S/N? Lots of pics!

M1903, M1903A3 and M1917.
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jekbrown
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Help with 1903 that has no S/N? Lots of pics!

#1 Post by jekbrown » Wed Oct 25, 2017 1:27 am

My great grand father served in the army in WWI. A 1903 has been in the family ever since. Allegedly he brought home the rifle he actually used in the war...and kept it, sporterized the stock and used it for deer etc. until the rifle got passed down to my grandfather (WWII vet, who served in both the Army and Navy)...and then my father (tried to join the Navy during Nam to be an naval aviator/navigator, but his eyes kept him out). It's unclear in family lore if it was supposed to be a gun he owned personally, pre-war...an issued gun...or a BFPU. Anyway, I know rules were more lax back in those days, but I'm guessing that he bought a Springfield that was "like the one he used in the war" and the "like" got dropped over the years in family lore. In any case, the tricky part about learning ANYTHING about this rifle is that there is NO serial number or manufacturer's information on the upper part of the receiver. In fact, the steel there looks smoother than anywhere else on the entire gun...so whomever removed it had at least a little bit of skill to keep it 'pretty' in the process. Hopefully great grandpa wasn't a thief of gov property that was covering his tracks...but in any case, I'm looking for ANY info I can get on this rifle. If it's literally impossible to 'know' anything about it without the S/N, I'll take "most likely" or "guestimates" or whatever I can get. My objective with this gun is to obtain a correct stock for it, and a repro sling and make it a wall hanger / display gun for my living room--a piece of family history. Even if it wasn't used in WWI like the story says, it HAS been in my family for 4 generations now, so it'd be cool to display. What says the collective of gurus? Any ideas? :) Pics...

(please keep in mind that I'm a MSR kinda guy that doesn't generally deal in these kinds of guns, so if you find yourself saying "why the heck isn't he showing me what I NEED to see in the pics to help!?!?", that is why...I'm a total noob on these rifles!)

Stock: Only alpha-numeric identifier in here that I can see is the "22" inside under the chamber area). Not shown in any pic below, but the butt plate trap door has a small "R" on the inside...but there are NO markings that I can see on the inside the butt plate itself.

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Trigger Guard / Magazine: Only alpha-numeric identifier in here that I can see is the "R" on the right side of the rear of the trigger guard...

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Barrel: Just in front of the receiver it looks like it reads "035388 18 RIA". About an inch further down the bbl is a poorly engraved "D" and another inch down the bbl is a better looking "P". There are no other alpha-numeric symbols on the bbl, but i can see varying wear patterns in the steel that definitely suggest that it used to have a mil-type handguard / bayo mount on it back in the day. Pics...

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Receiver / rear sight / trigger etc: Tons of symbols on these parts, I presume most of these are just inspection marks, but maybe they mean more to some people here. Anyway, on the back of the rear sight drift there is what looks like a "B", a "6" (or 9) and a "4" with an "X" on top of it. Dunno if it means anything, but it's interesting...

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Symbols on the side of the receiver, left to right: unclear (could just be physical damage), "31" in a square, "36" in a square, "4" in a square (it's possible there is a second digit here, the square kinda fades to the right), "34" in a square (upside down), "21" in a square (on it's side), "18" in a circle (appears that it's double-stamped with this), "13" on it's side without a square/circle, unclear (could just be physical damage), "21" in a circle.

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Here's the smooth receiver...no S/N or manufacturer or even a hint of one...

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Cutoff, with an "R"...

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Trigger, with an "R"...

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Bottom of receiver...looks like a "5" (or, less likely, a 9) and a "25" in circles...more inspection marks?

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Bolt: Looks like there is "NS" or "SN" on the lug on the side...and a little lit bomb looking thing under the bolt handle. Other than those two marks and the 'safe' / 'ready' engraved on the safety, I don't see any other alpha-numeric symbols on these.

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Few more random shots of everything put back together...

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ok, that's it. I can get close ups of anything that might be useful that isn't 'covered' above. Any ideas? I know this may be mission impossible without the SN and all, but I gotta try! :shifty:
Last edited by jekbrown on Wed Oct 25, 2017 2:49 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Help with 1903 that has no S/N? Lots of pics!

#2 Post by Hammerdown » Wed Oct 25, 2017 1:49 am

In picture 21 all the small stamps on the side of the receiver will let one of our experts find out what receiver maker and time period it came from. If I had to guess I would say Remington 1903 but that's just a guess. :think:
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Re: Help with 1903 that has no S/N? Lots of pics!

#3 Post by jekbrown » Wed Oct 25, 2017 1:57 am

thanks for the response! Maybe I should have "led" with that pic... :) do I need better pics of those marks? I have updated the original post with what I believe each symbol/number to be (having it right in front of me may make it easier for me to read than a pic on the www). BTW, is it common for these guns to have receivers with no manufacturer info / serials? Was it a normal thing to do as part of a sporterizing process or...? I'm trying to come up with a reason why anyone would do this OTHER than theft, lol.

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Re: Help with 1903 that has no S/N? Lots of pics!

#4 Post by jekbrown » Wed Oct 25, 2017 2:28 am

Also, I don't think it will 'show' in a pic, but on the bottom of the stock about 1/4" from where the steel of trigger gaurd assembly attaches to the stock there is a VERY faint letter...maybe 1/4-3/8" high. It looks like it's either a "B", a "P", or an "8". It's really hard to see, only the top portion is very visible at all. It's like it was there before the stock was sporterized / sanded / refinished, which removed about 99% of whatever it was. I don't know if the site below is legit, but if so, sounds like it might be a "P".

http://m1903.com/proofmarks.htm

Looks like this one, just MUCH more difficult to see...

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Re: Help with 1903 that has no S/N? Lots of pics!

#5 Post by slowbob2 » Wed Oct 25, 2017 9:14 am

The receiver has clearly been ground down and reblued . There are the remains of markings shown in your photos .

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Re: Help with 1903 that has no S/N? Lots of pics!

#6 Post by M14man » Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:08 am

By federal law any firearm with serial number removed is illegal. The stock has no finger grooves, the stock was made in the 1940's. Hard to tell the approx year of the gun since it has all the tell tale marks removed. Judging by the large hole on the left side of the receiver, it is a WW2 Remington. Called a "Hatcher hole". Although some holes added at rebuild by the arsenals.Have someone weld a piece inside the receiver opening so the bolt will close, but no cartridge can be inserted. Looks like a mix of parts. Parts with an 'R' are Remington made and from WW2. NS on bolt is for nickel steel and is from the 1920's. Smooth butt plate is WW1 era. I would guess the gun was either rebuilt, or was assembled from parts.Again the gun is illegal as it is.
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Re: Help with 1903 that has no S/N? Lots of pics!

#7 Post by M14man » Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:25 am

WW2 front sight blade. Barrel may be a Rock Island which makes me think rifle was rebuilt from parts. It would be strange though since RI barrels would not have been used at the time the Rem parts were put in. More reason to believe gun was assembled out of parts.

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Re: Help with 1903 that has no S/N? Lots of pics!

#8 Post by jekbrown » Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:52 am

No way to discern anything about the receiver? No super-secret S/N location inside that can be uncovered/seen? bummer!

How much would a milsurp receiver set me back, and how difficult is bbl removal?

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Re: Help with 1903 that has no S/N? Lots of pics!

#9 Post by Ghoulardi » Wed Oct 25, 2017 1:31 pm

jekbrown wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:52 am
No way to discern anything about the receiver? No super-secret S/N location inside that can be uncovered/seen? bummer!

How much would a milsurp receiver set me back, and how difficult is bbl removal?

while it's true that a scrubbed serial number is illegal. that was probably like that for at 70 years or more, if it was me, I wouldn't be too concerned about it, they don't have a army of the " serial number police" scouring the country looking at every firearm for a serial number.

the only way I see you, or anybody else for that matter, getting caught with a firearm without a serial number; if you go AND DO STUPID THINGS WITH IT, ie. go on a crime spree with it and get caught. shooting it up the air etc... in a city and get caught etc...

if you are still concerned about it, a much better and far, far cheaper solution, is add a scope mount to it, it will cover up that part of the receiver, and no one is the wiser. the added benefit you can now put a scope on it. far much cheaper and less of a nutroll then buying a receiver pay shipping and transfer fee, then monkey around with taking the receiver off, then monkeying around with timing it etc..etc...etc.... there are plenty of tutorials on YOUTUBE showing you how to add a scope mount to rifles, if you want to do it yourself, I'm sure that there are ones just for the 1903s on there.

this mount on AMAZON is under 100 bills



NOTE; THIS IS JUST A EXAMPLE I FOUND, YOU CAN LOOKING AROUND ON THE NET AND LOOK FOR OTHER ONES
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Re: Help with 1903 that has no S/N? Lots of pics!

#10 Post by M14man » Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:53 pm

What goulardi says is true. If it says in your house, no one should ever know. A proper stock will be about $100 and a sling $25. Good enough for a family wall hanger.

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Re: Help with 1903 that has no S/N? Lots of pics!

#11 Post by Orroe » Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:05 pm

Delete double post
Last edited by Orroe on Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:26 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Help with 1903 that has no S/N? Lots of pics!

#12 Post by Orroe » Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:18 pm

Is there a gas escape hole on the right side of the receiver? if not than its a Remington 1903. also the large numbers of sub inspection stamps on the left side of receiver mimics that's on several of my Rem 03A3. And the recoil lug on the receiver is not sculpted like Rock Island or Springfield rifles are, its almost rectangular . My guess (without more picture of another area not shown) it may be Remington. Other things I notice is bolt is Rock Island NS strait handle body, bolt sleeve unmarked so Springfield,the stock do not have 03A3 receiver ring cut outs so early non grasping groove stock. Never seen that style of but sling swivel before and have round rear sight base. But does have lots of Remington parts (WWII) on it. Questionable whether its a re-arsenal vs a part gun.

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Re: Help with 1903 that has no S/N? Lots of pics!

#13 Post by Ghoulardi » Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:23 pm

M14man wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:53 pm
What goulardi says is true. If it says in your house, no one should ever know.


even if you take it out to a public range to shoot it, it still wouldn't be notice. people don't come up and start scrutinize peoples rifle for SN etc...

I registered a few SBRs, and take them to the ODNR public range, in the 15 years I have been doing that, not one of the state range officers have ever asked me to see my paperwork.
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Re: Help with 1903 that has no S/N? Lots of pics!

#14 Post by M14man » Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:45 pm

Orroe Remingtons had a hole on both sides!
and Orroe is right. Sling swivel is not from a M1903
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Re: Help with 1903 that has no S/N? Lots of pics!

#15 Post by jekbrown » Thu Oct 26, 2017 12:14 am

Orroe wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:18 pm
Is there a gas escape hole on the right side of the receiver? if not than its a Remington 1903.
Nope, no gas escape hole on the right side.
...also the large numbers of sub inspection stamps on the left side of receiver mimics that's on several of my Rem 03A3. And the recoil lug on the receiver is not sculpted like Rock Island or Springfield rifles are, its almost rectangular . My guess (without more picture of another area not shown) it may be Remington.
I'd love to post more pics...just need to know what would be helpful to see! :)

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