Springfield 1903, rifle, military, ex ordinance


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Dear friends and readers, we continue today in our roundup of articles that leads us to become better know the rifles that have made the history of many battles and wars, in more or less distant times, and who have contributed in a decisive way to give precedence to some armies and peoples against others.

These rifles which, while being equipped, with their strengths and weaknesses, of an inferior technology compared to the latest generation of rifles, bought, over the years, an increasing appeal because they have been the protagonists of historical periods. Today we speak about the Springfield 1903, starting with the steps that led to its design and manufacture, and to do this, we must go back to the year 1898 In that year the United States army was engaged in the “Spanish-American” war and had the Krag-Jorgensen rifle as weapon ordinance, with 30-40 caliber and ammunition produced by the same house, supplied since 1892.

 Springfiled 1903, rifle, military, ex ordinance

The US army, however, was in serious trouble, facing an opponent with a “Mauser” of Spanish production, designed and built in 1893, that had two key advantages over the Krag-Jorgensen rifle: best ballistic characteristics in terms of accuracy on the useful shot and a greater loading speed of the weapon, a feature that allowed to have a much greater volume of fire.

The US military leaders wanted to run for cover by commissioning to Springfield a weapon that had similar characteristics and also better than the Mauser. Later it was learned that the same military leaders were able to put pressure against the Mauser to get information and projects, some of which will then be transferred in Springfield with a “royalties” paid to Mauser.


The Springfield completed in 1902 the design of the rifle and began the production on an industrial scale for the army in 1903, the same year from which it takes its name. In the same year the agreement was signed in which this rifle becomes weapon ordinance for the US army. Initially, however, there are doubts at the military top, because it is believed that this weapon present some defects, such as a too fragile attack for the bayonet and ammunition that is ill-suited to the rifle and with rounding to its vertex that, slowing down the speed during the trajectory, reduces the performance and, therefore, the degree of injury to the opponent.

Th President Theodore Roosevelt himself, previously senior officer of the Army USA, orders at Springfield the return of the models in use in 1905 to replace with a bayonet attack more effective. Almost at the same time, the Germans are experiencing a new bullet model called “Spitzer”, which means “sharp”: it presents cutting-edge ballistic characteristics for “stability” during the trajectory and greater speed of exiting from the barrel of the weapon, both elements that allow a ‘high penetration capacity” and, therefore, great efficiency from the point of view of war.

Springfield 1903, rifle, military, ex ordinance

The U.S. run for cover again and succeed in designing a ammunition, called 30-06, which has almost the same features as the German one, but in 1906 they are forced once again to retract the Springfield rifles to replace the barrel and re-calibration of the sights. The new ammunition has ballistic characteristics different from that used previously and the outbreak of the powders generates departure at greater velocity of the bullet, creating inside the barrel much higher pressures that become excessive for those supplied up to that moment.

In fact you get to the First World War, with the army US that is not yet equipped with Springfield rifles sufficient for all the soldiers, as a result of these continuous improvements of the initial project. Then is intensified the production of the same model that, between 1915 and 1918, leads to build other 265,000 rifles, in addition to the other 850,000 which, at the end of required mechanical changes, were given back to the army. A designer named John D. Petersen designs a specimen of Springfield that has a system reset similar to a prototype of semi-automatic, but since this requires the modification of the “receiver” with new rifles reduction for the army, it remains only a prototype.

During this period, and for all the time in which this rifle remained as ordinance weapon of the army of the United States, were designed and built several prototypes of Springfield1903 with different characteristics which, however, being prototypes, were never produced in large scale but in very limited series.

The other models were:

- Rifle M1903 Mark1, already mentioned above, with the breech and, especially, stop tooth modified that allow semi-automatic operation;

- M1903A1 rifle fitted with checkered pistol stock , trigger and recoil pad;

- M1903A rifle that has the same characteristics as those described above, but is made ​​with a lighter overall structure;

- M1903A4 rifle that is the version of “sniper” with pistol grip and possibility of application of optical magnification to 2.5, most available on the market compared to previous models, in the estimated number of 25,000 units.

Today the “demilitarized” weapon is widely used for the “shot in polygon” because it is very accurate, especially the A3 model with four-barrel grooves. Because of the limited availability of Springfield on the market, especially in later versions, built only in the prototype stage, the purchase for sport and for collecting involves a very high price.

But is also true that for the pure collector this is a rare “gem” for its collection, symbolizing a “piece of history” in the early decades of the last century.

Alessio Ceccarelli

Beretta, products, accessories, hunting, shooting, outdoor

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