Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 16

FEATURE // VINTAGE RIFLE

A NEW UNIFORM
FOR AN OLD SOLDIER: THE VMR MATCH SPRINGFIELD RIFLE
BY ART MERRILL
Gunsmiths are filling a new niche created by Civilian Marksmanship Program competitions like the “as-issued”Vintage Military Rifle.

H

istory is an odd thing. Or maybe we just think it is because we tend to view it as being linear. And when it seems to loop back onto itself we think, “Hey, that’s odd.” Case in point: The venerable ‘03 Springfield. There was a time when this rifle was worth only 15 bucks in full military dress, and eight times that if you put it in a sporter stock, drilled & tapped the receiver and turned down the bolt handle to clear a scope. The 1950s-1960s were the heydays for turning inexpensive surplus Springfields into hunting rifles. There must be as many “sporterized” ‘03s out there as originals. I’ve got a few of both, including one built as a Newton “kit” rifle (that’s another story), and here’s where history has taken an odd twist: The Springfields in original military configuration are now worth more than the nice sporters. Springfield Armory and Rock Island Arsenal produced more than 1.2 million M1903 Springfields between 1906-1927. From 1941 until 1944, Remington and the L.C. Smith Corona Typewriter Company made another 1.4 million or so M1903 and M1903A3 rifles, including about 29,000 M1903A4 sniper rifle variants. The rifle underwent constant design and manufacturing changes throughout its service life, so there’s a plethora of differing details. Production stopped and restarted several

times, and continued through the interwar years, if you count the match rifles assembled at Springfield Armory between the World Wars. Officially, production ceased permanently in 1944, though spare parts were still being manufactured in 1945, and armory inspectors’ markings appear on rifles up into the 1960s when the M1903A4 served in Vietnam. With more than two and a half million Springfield ‘03s manufactured, you’d think there would be plenty of them still around. There are, relatively speaking, but the days of buying them as government surplus for $14.50 are over. Today a run-of-the-mill to minty arsenal rebuilt 03A3 is in the $500-$1,000 range. By comparison, a sporterized ’03 I bought last year at auction was only $350. Perhaps one of the factors pushing prices upwards is the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) Springfield and Vintage Military Rifle matches. These are “run what ya brung” informal competitions that don’t allow accurized match-grade rifles—-only military bolt action rifles in “as-issued” condition. For years I shot these matches with my Swedish M38 Mauser. I don’t see through barrel-mounted rear sights as well as I used to, so I’ve been searching for an aperture rear sighted M1903A3. Maybe other middle-aged shooters are, too.

16 SSUSA MARCH 2012

PHOTO COURTESY CMP DURING THE SPRINGFIELD/VINTAGE MILITARY RIFLE MATCH



Shooting Sports USA - March 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Shooting Sports USA - March 2012

Shooting Sports USA - March 2012
Competitor’s Corner
Shooter’s News
Product Focus
Book Reviews
Score Sheets
The VMR Match Springfield Rifle
James River Armory
The Quiet Explosion of Gun Television
A Page From History
Coming Events
Member Info/Classified Ads
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - Shooting Sports USA - March 2012
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 2
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - Competitor’s Corner
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 4
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 5
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 6
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 7
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - Shooter’s News
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - Product Focus
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - Book Reviews
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 11
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - Score Sheets
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 13
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 14
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 15
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - The VMR Match Springfield Rifle
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 17
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 18
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 19
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 20
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 21
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 22
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 23
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - James River Armory
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 25
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - The Quiet Explosion of Gun Television
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 27
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 28
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 29
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - A Page From History
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - Coming Events
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 32
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 33
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 34
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 35
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 36
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 37
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 38
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 39
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 40
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 41
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 42
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - 43
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - Member Info/Classified Ads
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - Cover3
Shooting Sports USA - March 2012 - Cover4
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