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Auction Date: November 30, 2012

Lot 3630: Springfield Armory U.S. - 1903

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Extremely Rare Two Digit Serialized Original U.S. Springfield Model 1903 Rod Bayonet "Serial Number 24 " Bolt Action Rifle
Estimated Price: $55,000 - $85,000
Item Views 244 Bid Activity Average
Serial #Springfield Armory U.S. - 1903 ManufacturerSpringfield Armory U.S. Model1903
TypeRifle Gauge30-03 Catalog Page218
Barrel24 Inch Round FinishBlue Grip
Stockwalnut ClassCurio & Relic Long Gun RatingSee Condition
DescriptionWhat a phenomenal example of an extremely rare, first month of production, serial number "24", U.S. Springfield Model 1903 Rod Bayonet rifle as manufactured in 1903. This outstanding rifle is all original in as issued condition that retains it's original rod bayonet configuration and is still chambered in the original ".30-03" cartridge. Between November 1903 and January 1905, Springfield Armory manufactured approximately 74,000 Model 1903 rifles in the distinctive rod bayonet configuration. Several hundred Rod Bayonet Model 1903 rifles were issued to the Corps of Cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and to some Regular Army units in Alaska, with a few rifles provided to some state governors, small arms and ammunition manufacturers. However before the Rod Bayonet Model 1903 rifles became general issue to the rest of the Army and state militia, President Theodore Roosevelt examined a Rod Bayonet Model 1903 and notified the Chief of Ordnance that "I think that ramrod bayonet about as poor an invention as I ever saw." On January 11, 1905, the Chief of Ordnance stopped all production of Rod Bayonet rifles and immediately proceeded to redesign the rifle to accept a 16-inch knife bayonet. The approximately 74,000 Model 1903 Rod Bayonet rifles produced prior to January 11, 1905, both still at Springfield Arsenal and those issued to Regular Army units, the West Point Cadets, as some of those supplied to various state Governors, were subsequently modified to accept the Model 1905 Bayonet. However experts today estimate that less than 100 original Model 1903 Rod Bayonet rifles escaped modification to the 1905 Configuration, with many being in public museums with only a few original unaltered, Model 1903 Rod Bayonet rifles actually in private collections. An original, unmodified, Model 1903 Rod Bayonet rifle is one of the rarest and most difficult to obtain of all U.S. martial arms. This rifle still retains its original blue finish on the barrel, front and rear sight bases, barrel bands, trigger guard and floor plate, with the original oil-quenched, casehardened, finish on the receiver. The top of the receiver is roll-stamped in four-lines with serifed letters as follows:"U.S./SPRINGFIELD ARMORY, MODEL 1903" over serial number "24". The markings on the cut-off and safety lock also utilize serifed letters. The barrel is correctly not marked or dated and is fitted with the special one-piece front sight base, with the double holes through the base with single locating pin through the center of the base, and the early style rear sight base with Model 1902 Krag rear sight with peep plate. The base pins on the rear sight base and the front sight stud are milled flush with the sight base and both retain their original arsenal blued finish, neither the rear sight base or the front sight stud have ever been removed from the barrel. The bolt has the correct/original arsenal polished body with blued handle and fiery niter blue extractor. It is fitted with the second version, safety lock that has a more squared off shape with the serifed letters as adopted in 1904 and fitted to most Rod Bayonet Model 1903 rifles. It is fitted with the second variation bolt sleeve that is blued with a dark, casehardened finish on the safety lock and cocking piece. The "ON" side of the cut-off is polished bright. In addition to the distinctive 23 1/2 inch rod bayonet, the rifle has special bayonet stud and catch, special upper barrel band with flat-sided stacking swivel, one-piece lower barrel band, smooth buttplate with small, Krag style, trap with assembly number (81) on the inside. It has the and smooth, pointed trigger. The follower is the second style with curved front end. The rifle has the early 1901 style trigger guard installed on some Rod Bayonet rifles that allows the rifle to fire when the trigger is pushed forward from behind. This rifle still retains it original beautiful black walnut stock and handguard, with both having their original oil finish. The stock lacks the reinforcing bolts found on later production Model 1903 rifles and the left side of the stock wrist is stamped with the final inspection mark consisting of the script initials "JSA" over the date "1903" within a rectangle. A small number "8" sub-inspection mark and an encircled, script "P" proof mark are stamped on the underside of the stock behind the trigger guard. The rifle still retains its original and very distinctive flat handguard with the internal spring clip attached by two rivets.

ConditionExcellent with 98% plus of the original blued and oil-quenched case hardened finish remain overall the rifle, with just a hint of blue flaking on the trigger guard and floorplate. The stock and hand guard are also both in excellent condition, both retaining a beautiful matching medium brown color overall with crisp cartouches and proofs. The only notifiable comment is that there are a couple of very minor, light pressure dents on the left side; one directly behind the cartouche and a second one directly in front of the buttplate. This is one of the finest, all original Model 1903 Rod-Bayonet rifle that we have ever had the privilege to offer for sale. The superb condition and originality of this rifle is impeccable and would be difficult to improve upon or be upgraded! Certainly for the discriminating, high end collector that wants one-all original, early extroadinary 1903 ramrod bayonet rifle for their collection.
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