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Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Northern Berks County, PA
Re: loading for an 03A3 .3006
NO, repeat, NO 1903A3 rifles had any heat treat issues. They were made after that was rectified.
The 800,000 number is the cutoff for Springfield arsenal manufactured M1903 rifles. Rock Island Arsenal also made M1903's, and their cutoff is a different number. I think it's around 285,000, if memory serves. No 1903A3 needs to be considered unsafe be virtue of the heat treating it received.
The 1903A3 was also made by Remington and Smith-Corona, never made by Springfield or Rock Island, and the heat treatment issue, anecdotally, seems to be more prevalent in rifles made during or shortly before the US' entrance into WW1. Prior to that, experienced craftsmen could observe the color of the steel to know it was the proper temperature.
During ramped up war-time production, new employees didn't have the time to get that experience, plus it was reported that open windows made it that the weather (cloudy or sunny) influenced how the color of the steel was seen and mean the steel could be "overcooked" or "burned", making it brittle.
Interestingly, the USMC was short on funds for rifles as WWII came to the US, and the proofed and reissued "low number" M1903's with 80,000PSI proof loads. Those old rifles were retained and used in combat right up to and including Guadalcanal.
Again, this was ONLY in Springfield-made rifles under S/N 800,000 or Rock Island-made rifles under S/N 285,000 (roughly). NO 1903A3 rifles are affected by this.
I have shot Hornady light magnum ammo in my "high number" Rock Island M1903 with good results.
For handloading, I used a Hornady 150gr SP Interlock on top of 51.5gr of IMR4064 with good results on my 1903A3.