Springfield 1903 Basic Maintenance Breakdown

Springfield 1903 Basic Maintenance Breakdown

Mar 2nd 2023

The Springfield M1903 rifle, sometimes known simply as the Springfield 1903, chambered in .30-06, is, without doubt, one of the most famous and influential rifles ever developed.

It was in production between 1903 and 1936, and Springfield Armory produced more than a million of these rifles during that time. It was our official service rifle during the First World War - notwithstanding the fact that many doughboys probably carried Lee-Enfield rifles.

The M1903 has achieved legendary status thanks to its durability and smooth action that remained reliable even in the worst conditions. It was also paired with the powerful .30-06 Springfield, and was accurate beyond 600 yards, with lethal hits possible between 1,000 and 2,000 yards. Given the following, it was also widely used as a sniper rifle.

After the war, many M1903 rifles in private hands were sporterized and used for competition and hunting. Today, it remains a popular platform among shooters and competitive marksmen.

Yet the fact remains that many of these rifles are now well over a century old. If your rifle has seen better days or just needs a cleaning, here are some basic steps you should take to keep it in shooting shape.

Disassembly and Cleaning

First and most importantly, open the action of your M1903 and clear the rifle.

Prepare a clean space and a mat which you can use for cleaning and organization. If you plan on taking your rifle apart and further than we suggest, we recommend the use of a small magnetic tray that will help prevent you from using hardware.

First, remove the bolt from your M1903. To do so, place the magazine cut-off in the center position (pointing straight up) and then remove the bolt by sliding to the rear - it will come right out the back of the receiver.

Next, depress the spring-loaded bolt sleeve lock at the rear of the bolt to rotate the cocking piece and bolt sleeve; unscrew the cocking piece from the bolt body and place the bolt body aside.

In this configuration, the firing pin and striker assembly are cocked; you can remove the striker from the assembly, but unless the bolt is heavily fouled, this may not be necessary. Use your best judgment. If only a light cleaning is needed, get some bore solvent and a nylon brush and loosen whatever deposits of fouling are present, then lightly oil the assembly.

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Next, use a nylon or brass brush and some bore solvent to loosen any fouling deposits on the bolt body, Use a thin brass bore brush to clean the interior of the bolt body if it is badly fouled, then use a clean patch and some gun oil to lightly oil it.

At this point, you can either remove the barrel bands and the barrel or clean the barrel without completely stripping the gun. Unless your gun is heavily fouled, you can probably clean it without taking it entirely apart.

With the bolt removed, you should be able to get a cleaning rod through the bore from the breech end. First, use a brass brush, apply some bore solvent to the chamber, and push the brush through from the chamber to the muzzle.

Pass it through a few times from chamber to muzzle, then remove the brush, screw in a jag, and apply a clean patch to the jag. Push this through the bore from chamber to muzzle. Remove the patch on the first pass and replace it with a clean patch.

Pass clean patches through the bore until they come out clean, then use one more clean patch to apply a light coat of oil to the bore.

This is also a good time to remove and clean the internal magazine. Loosen and remove the front and rear guard screws that hold the trigger guard and magazine in place, then drop them through the bottom of the rifle.

The follower and magazine spring are subject to fouling accumulation and corrosion. Use a brass brush and some solvent to clean these, then lightly oil to prevent rust.

After you clean the bolt, magazine, and bore, you can reassemble them in the reverse order from which you took them apart. Keep in mind that from time to time a more aggressive cleaning will be in order which will require you to completely disassemble the bolt, drop and disassemble the trigger assembly, and remove the barrel bands.

After you’ve cleaned the bolt, mag, and bore and reassembled the parts you took apart, it doesn’t hurt to condition the wood. A commercial stock wax or polish will do the trick, although you can also rub some beeswax into the stock, too. This will help waterproof it and will help protect it against water damage, warping, and dry rot. It’ll also give the wood a beautiful, lasting luster.

Feel free to treat the external hardware, the outside of the barrel, and the barrel bands with the same stock wax or polish you use on the stock, too, as these compounds are oil-based and will protect the hardware against corrosion.

After that, it’s off to the range or back to the safe for your 1903.

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The Springfield M1903 rifle and variants saw service through two world wars and has widely been used domestically in the hands of civilians as a target, competition, and hunting rifles.

In many of these cases, the rifles themselves may be well over a century old. At this age, even with proper care and maintenance, parts fail. Springs, particularly, such as the bolt’s mainspring and the magazine spring, are liable to fail.

If your M1903 is in need of Springfield parts, don’t gamble elsewhere. Small shops are unlikely to have them, but we carry one of the largest collections of firearms parts in the world. If you need replacement Springfield parts for your M1903, check here first.

We carry barrel band and hardware kits, spring kits (including the mag spring and bolt springs), spring and pin kits, and other piecemeal parts and hardware.

Don’t be afraid to contact us, either. If you have an M1903 and need help finding a specific replacement part, get in touch with us at 610-250-3960.