Make: Rock Island Arsenal
Serial Number: 236739
Year of Manufacture: 1914 (page 373 of Joe Poyer’s book, The M1903 Springfield Rifle and its Variations, 3rd Edition) Barrel Date 8 – 13
Caliber: .30-06 Springfield
Action Type: Bolt Action, Internal Magazine
Markings: The top of the receiver is marked “U.S. / ROCK ISLAND / ARSENAL / MODEL 1903. / 236739”. The top of the barrel is marked “R.I.A. / flaming bomb / 8 – 13”. The underside of the barrel is marked “C 88” and “P”. The magazine cutoff is marked “ON OFF” and the safety is marked “SAFE READY”. The trigger guard tang is marked “flaming bomb / N.R.A.”. This is not a 1903 N.R.A. rifle. The bottom metal is a replacement part with proper (see Our Assessment below) “N.R.A.” markings. The barrel band is marked “U”. The left side of the stock, above the trigger, is marked with a “boxed” inspector’s cartouche “C.N. / 1913”. This is the cartouche of C. Nelson who worked at the Rock Island Arsenal (page 394 of Joe Poyer’s book, The M1903 Springfield Rifle and its Variations, 3rd Edition). The bottom of the grip is marked with a “circled P” proof and a “3”.
Barrel Length: Approximately 24 Inches
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a bladed post set under a removable hood. The hood is on tight. We did not want to mar the finish of the rifle so we did not remove it. The rear sight is a “U” notched blade attached to a fully adjustable sight ladder marked from “3-27”. When flipped up separate notches and an aperture on the ladder can be used for sighting.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The two piece hardwood stock has a straight grip, metal nosecap, stacking loop, barrel band, two sling loops, a through bolt and a metal buttplate with hinged door for storage. There is a wooden spare parts container in the buttstock; see Accessories section below. The wood shows various scrapes, scratches and handling marks. The LOP measures 12 7/8 inches from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate. The stock rates in about Very Good to Fine overall condition.
Type of Finish: Blue
Finish Originality: Refinished
Bore Condition: The bore is bright. The rifling is deep. There is no visible erosion. The bore shows an M.E. of 1.
Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 90% of its metal finish, as refinished. The receiver and bottom metal show discoloration and areas of light surface erosion. The buttplate shows scrapes and some discoloration. There are various other light marks on the metal. The screw heads show use. The markings are deep. Overall, this rifle rates in about Very Good Plus condition, as refinished.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. We have not fired this rifle. As with all previously owned firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork& Accessories: The rifle comes with a rare wooden spare parts container stored in the buttstock. Cloth cleaning patches were stored behind the wooden container to keep it from moving in the buttstock. It is drilled and inletted to hold a spare firing pin rod, striker and an extractor. The wood appears to be of the same date as the rifle. The wooden container shows a couple light scrapes and light discoloration on one end. It is in about Fine to Excellent condition. The metal parts are in about Very Good Plus condition.
Our Assessment: This Rock Island Arsenal Model 1903 was made back in 1914. It has a strong bright bore and nice deep markings on the metal & on the stock. The receiver, barrel and stock are all from Rock Island Arsenal. The bottom metal is marked with a “flaming bomb / N.R.A.” mark which was only placed on (Springfield Armory and Rock Island Arsenal) NRA Sporter rifles from 1924 to 1932. Some spare parts were made for these rifles but the purchase of these parts was eventually limited to those who had previously purchased an NRA Sporter. The limited supply of original rifles and parts makes the mark quite uncommon. The NRA Sporter rifles where purchased through the Director of Civilian Marksmanship Program (page 46 and 47 of Joe Poyer’s book, The M1903 Springfield Rifle and its Variations, 3rd Edition).
The rifle comes with a rare wooden spare parts container stored in the buttstock which is in great condition. Cloth cleaning patches were stored behind the wooden container to keep it from moving in the buttstock and becoming damaged. It is drilled and inletted to hold a spare firing pin rod, striker and an extractor. Between 1911 and 1924 every other 1903 rifle issued was issued with a spare parts container in place of the oiler kit. It holds the parts most likely to break under combat conditions. Since these were made of wood they are somewhat fragile once outside of the buttstock, especially in combat conditions, and few are still around. For more on the spare parts container see page 295 of Joe Poyer’s book, The M1903 Springfield Rifle and its Variations, 3rd Edition.