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Curio & Relic/Black Powder Curio & Relics and Black Powder Firearms, Old School shooting fun!

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  #1  
Old 02-14-2013, 4:00 PM
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Default Smith 03A3 help, **pics added**

Hopefully some of you can help with this.

many years ago I got a sporterized Smith-Corona 03A3, probably around 1990. long story, but found it at Beeman guns in Santa Rosa (yes, the main store that sold Beeman air rifles, they also sold real guns) in of all things a bucket with a few other used guns. just kinda like, "here's our crap, just please take it off our hands!!" was original wood but only the sporter part of stock. all other wood was gone.

I was in need of a deer rifle (and in college at the time) that could shoot but wouldn't put me in the poor house. Something that could get beat up and I wouldn't cry. It looked like this would fit the bill. Barrel was clean. check. D&T'd, had a redfield base, and a broken 3/4" mil post scope. replace rings and scope, easy. check. trigger good enough. check.

out the door for $150. that's something I never forgot!!

I took it to the range and noticed that it kinda shot pretty well. after I reloaded a bit and worked on loads I noticed it shot really well. as in sub MOA. I even had some 5 shot 100yd strings I could cover with my thumb.

Of course without the interweb thing, I just chalked it up to good old american superiority and all that. info was hard to come by.

but here's the thing. I've since replaced and tossed the stock and replaced (but kept) the trigger with a timney drop in. so maybe you can help me with a few things.

1) the bolt is a true turn down bolt. not a cut/weld job. no markings except for a single R on bottom. (the original stock was cut for the bolt. damn, wish I kept the stock. some stampings woulda helped. DOH!!) funny, on the replacement ramline stock I had to take a round file and make room for the bolt.

2) the barrel has no markings on it, save for a P stamped on the bottom near the muzzle. I guess that means Proof. but, check this out. it's got 6 grooves. honestly, really, 6 grooves.

3) it's a 3,xxx,xxx serial (hidden under mount) so its a first batch, not second.

I would think it has a military barrel on it. and that the bolt is also military.

I guess pics would help but I'd have to disassemble it all and don't feel like doing it. plus, I'm just wondering if some smith's were ever converted to sniper A4's like remington 03a3's were. or whatever.

does anyone have any insight as to what I totally lucked out on all those years ago. I know it's not a collector by any means, and it's $$$ value is minimal. but as a shooter...
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Last edited by rm1911; 02-18-2013 at 3:38 PM.. Reason: updated with pics
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Old 02-14-2013, 4:42 PM
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The early Smith Corona rifles had six groove barrels and are great shooters. No, the military did not convert any Smith Corona or Remington rifles to be 03-A4 rifles. Those were all purpose built. The markings on true 03-A4 rifles are offset so the bases do not cover them as in the pic below. Your rifles bolt may be a 03-A4 bolt, however many standard bolts will clear the scopes bells on sporter Springfield rifles.


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Last edited by SVT-40; 02-14-2013 at 4:45 PM..
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Old 02-14-2013, 5:59 PM
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Actually, there were a few (very, very few) standard 03A3's, including some Smith-Corona rifles, that were converted by the military (including the U.S. Navy, IIRC) to 03A4 snipers. Of course, without some kind of documentation, like DCM or CMP, this would be impossible to prove.

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Old 02-14-2013, 9:44 PM
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As SVT-40 mentioned, original A4s have an offset stamping on the receiver so it can be seen when the scope base is mounted. Could yours be a military conversion to A4? Possible but highly unlikely. They had plenty of A4s around so not too many were converted by the military.

The "P" on the underside of the barrel just behind the front sight base indicates it has been proofed fired. Most 1903/03-A3 USGI barrels are marked with the manufacturer (SA, RIA, RA, SC, JA etc) so having one with a P and no other markings is strange.

It could very well be and original SC 6 groove barrel without a marking. IIRC, Early SC are 6 groove barrels. I have an unissued SC 361XXXX with a 6 groove barrel so if your rifle is close to this SN then it would have a 6 groove.
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Old 02-18-2013, 3:36 PM
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ok, here's some pics. sorry for the delay

here's the "R" on the bolt


a better shot of bolt


the only mark or stamp on the barrel, a "P" near the muzzle, underneath


"O3A3 Smith Corona" is under the mount. here's the exposed serial


the bolt in the rifle, not a cut/weld job. I used to shoot it with a lyman aperture. but went the scope route since it was already d&t'd. you can see where I had to remove some of the stock




I put a ram line stock on it years ago. and I replaced the trigger with a timney drop in. very nice pull.

wish I could show a picture of the bore. it's 6 grooves and smooth and clean. I understand the barrels were made by High Standard.

I imagine it was possible that someone replaced the bolt as I'm sure it's not a difficult piece to acquire, at least not 30+ years ago. I got the rifle over 20 years ago, and who knows how many hands it passed through before mine. I don't think it was shot very much. I lean towards a military barrel, only because of the "P" stamp. but who, when, where, and why, are all questions I'll never get answered.

like I said, it shoots better than anything you'd buy today, unless you plan on spending a whole lot of money. I don't ever plan to sell it because it only has shooter value, not collector. but I kinda figure that whoever made it wanted it to be shot. so I shall

Quote:
I have an unissued SC 361XXXX with a 6 groove barrel so if your rifle is close to this SN then it would have a 6 groove.
it's a 363XXXX serial, so I gather it's close. I know it was made in early 1942. early production. early in the war. would have been before major ramp up
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Last edited by rm1911; 02-18-2013 at 3:43 PM..
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Old 02-18-2013, 4:07 PM
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I'm not seeing anything that would suggest anything done to it was in an A4 conversion. It all looks 1950s/60s postwar to me.
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Old 02-18-2013, 4:51 PM
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I can't say about the bolt, but there are plenty of knowledgeable people on this site who can tell at a glance whether the bolt is an actual A4 bolt or not.

Regarding the barrel...how long is it? Are the front sight milled cuts still present? If not, then it has either been cut or it is not a military barrel. It is possible if the the front sight cuts are present that the barrel was either polished or turned down and the barrel stampings are simply gone.

I have an actual A4 that some ninny sporterized back in the day. It was highly polished and blued...so much so that the barrel, still with the front sight cuts, no longer has any stampings on it.





As you can see, the barrel markings are gone...I believe this may well be the original barrel, but there is no way to know...


Here are some pics of the bolt, which knowledgeable people have told me is an original...although highly polished.


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Old 02-18-2013, 6:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mustang View Post
Regarding the barrel...how long is it? Are the front sight milled cuts still present? If not, then it has either been cut or it is not a military barrel. It is possible if the the front sight cuts are present that the barrel was either polished or turned down and the barrel stampings are simply gone.

I have an actual A4 that some ninny sporterized back in the day. It was highly polished and blued...so much so that the barrel, still with the front sight cuts, no longer has any stampings on it.

Here are some pics of the bolt, which knowledgeable people have told me is an original...although highly polished.
as for the barrel, I want to say 24", but haven't measured it.

it does have the sight bands on the muzzle. in this picture of 03a3's

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v1...k/9ecbb3ce.jpg

you can see that my barrel would have the same placement for front sights, and with the "P" on the barrel, I would have to conclude it's military. I don't know if there were different barrels for the A4, as in did the A4 barrels have sight bands or not. what's on the top? don't know. It came with that front sight already on it.

as for the bolt, it does look like yours. all polished, "R" stamp. etc. of course, most or all A4's were remington, so I wouldn't consider my rifle to be any way an a4. in fact, at this point - lack of stock, ramp front sight, etc. - it's moot. but that still doesn't mean it wasn't anything more than a simple swapping of parts.

I just was hoping that some of the knowledgable people might have any insight. like I said, the thing is super accurate. that's what's always intrigued me.

my guess is that the army/marine corps knew the inherent accuracy of those things. we think of sniping as hathcock's 800-1000yd shots, vietnam, maj. plaster, etc. but the time we were in europe, most sniper needs would have been under 400yds. zaitsev's shots in stalingrad were rarely more than 300-400 yds. the army would have been well served by throwing a scope on whatever decent 03a3 was in the armory, maybe putting a new barrel on it, etc. nothing fancy. it didn't take benchrest accuracy to kill from afar. hitting a 12" plate, which is about the size of a man's chest, at 500yds was well within the 03a3's potential.

Quote:
I'm not seeing anything that would suggest anything done to it was in an A4 conversion. It all looks 1950s/60s postwar to me.
wouldn't shock me if that was so. the revolution in sniper gear wouldn't come until vietnam, so it's highly possible that the army threw a few turned bolts on whatever was in the armory for training, korea, etc. given what they knew, it would've been perfect for their needs.

and in the end, for me, it matters not one bit. the thing is so accurate, that's all I care about. like my garand. not "correct" but a helluva shooter.

thanks for all the replies. fun to share
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Old 02-18-2013, 9:47 PM
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Here is the best pic I have of a genuine 03A4 bolt. Yours looks similar, but it's been ground a bit and polished.

It really makes no difference as to the value though since the rifle now is a shooter only and has zero collector value. So shoot it and enjoy it. It sounds like a real accurate rifle.


The rest of the rifle.


Found another pic in my files

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Last edited by SVT-40; 02-18-2013 at 10:30 PM..
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