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Old 04-03-2011, 01:34 PM
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Default An M1903A3 "parade rifle"

At the Phoenix gun show yesterday, I picked up an unusual addition to my U.S. military rifle collection. This is a model 1903A3 rifle on which the metal parts have been completely chrome plated for drill team, honor guard, color guard, parade and ceremonial use. Now some will tell you that these are not considered U.S. issue arms. I have to differ on that.

The U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry (The Old Guard) drill team uses them. This is the outfit that guards the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington. Their drill team is a spit and polish group, among the best at what they do. The CMP recently sold a number that had been plated by the Navy and deactivated so that they could not fire. They sold for $525 each. The Springfield Armory Museum has a few examples in their collection, which they obtained from Rock Island Arsenal. It's unknown if RIA did the work, however.

My example is a Remington, with a 4-groove barrel marked "3-43" that's in pretty good shape. It's fully functional and is capable of firing live ammo. It's unusual in that even the rear sight is fully plated. Many used standard blued rear sights, and some had the rear sight (sometimes even the front sight) removed completely to prevent injury when twirling the rifles in fancy drill.

I remember when I was in college ROTC, I was on a drill team, and we used them. Most of the rear sights had been knocked off.

At any rate, I chose from about 8 rifles that were similar; they came from a collector of these plated rifles who had deceased; his family was disposing of them for $250 each, although I managed to sweet-talk them into letting me have one for $200. I noted that the barrel needed cleaning - it might have been used for graveside ceremonial blank firing by a veterans' group. The lands and grooves are still fairly sharp with just a trace of frostiness.

This one is equipped with an original white parade sling; now all I need is a chromed bayonet to complete the setup - I've seen them for sale from time to time. Maybe someone here has one????

John

Here's a photo:

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Old 04-03-2011, 01:42 PM
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that is a very handsome rifle
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Old 04-03-2011, 02:13 PM
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Very nice. Great looking wood on that one.

My drill rifle as a Marine midshipman was a '03A3. It was a Remington with a 7/43 marked barrel. The only alterations was the removal of the front sight and the tip of the firing pin was ground off.

Later, these rifles ('03s and '03A3s) were demilled by having rods welded inside of the barrels.

During my cop days, I investigated a burglary at a funeral home. While checking a closet, I found a number of nickel plated '03s and '03A3s. These were used for military funerals.
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Old 04-03-2011, 02:19 PM
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Good looking find, good price too.
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Old 04-03-2011, 02:29 PM
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Hi:
Many years ago my High School Band Drill Team had Krag 30/40 Rifles that the metals were nickeled plated and the wood paint white. As I recall the rifles were fully functional.
Jimmy
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Old 04-03-2011, 04:49 PM
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Mine's a 1903, but the sights were left black. It is the best shooting '03 I have ever owned and I have owned a bunch of them. It shoots cast and jacketed equally well and doesn't mind bad weather.

I paid, IIRC, $300 for it ten years or so ago.

It is one of my "never sell" guns.

Bob
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Old 04-03-2011, 05:44 PM
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Sweet. I saw a lot of '03s yesterday at the world's largest gun show, and there wasn't even an old, worn out, beaten up, drug behind the truck example at $200. You stole it!
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Old 04-03-2011, 08:15 PM
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...duty, I was assigned to the 3rd Naval Construction Brigade PR Staff Drill Team. Our issue "dress" rifles were 03-A3 rifles, chrome-plated. The difference in your rifle and ours was that the sight blade was filed all the way down. No one wanted to catch a sight blade in the hand or wrist. We also had bayonets fixed, even using tape to insure that a broken bayonet stud wouldn't cause it to come off.

In high school, our drill team also had chrome-plated 03-A3's. I always thought they were fairly common among drill teams, except for the USMC (they've always used M1's).

That's a great find, and seeing it brings back some great service memories.
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Old 04-03-2011, 08:26 PM
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A few years back, I bought an M-1 Carbine at a gun show that was chromed. It is fully functional with a chromed 30 round banana magazine. I use it occasionally for plinking. I hace even kept it in the corner opf the bedroom for HD.
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Old 04-03-2011, 08:30 PM
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I just can't understand why you didn't pick one up for me!!!

Really, I would pay you back........
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Old 04-04-2011, 10:41 AM
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Default 1903

The blanks used had corrosive powder. Double check and you might clean it out with hot soapy water. Then solvent. Very nice find.
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Old 04-04-2011, 11:08 AM
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Brings back good memories from my ROTC Drill Team days. Mine didn't have a firing pin. I'd sure love to have it back. You did good.
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Old 04-04-2011, 01:18 PM
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About 12 years ago out at Camp Perry the CMP had maybe 200 chrome/nickle plated 1903, not A3's. These rifles were fully fuctional, not welded up. CMP wanted $150 each. Myself and a group of buddies of mine bought around 5 or 6 of them at the Matches and had them stripped of the shiney finish and reparked them. They came out great and are good shooters still.
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Old 04-04-2011, 04:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis The B View Post
...duty, I was assigned to the 3rd Naval Construction Brigade PR Staff Drill Team. Our issue "dress" rifles were 03-A3 rifles, chrome-plated. The difference in your rifle and ours was that the sight blade was filed all the way down. No one wanted to catch a sight blade in the hand or wrist. We also had bayonets fixed, even using tape to insure that a broken bayonet stud wouldn't cause it to come off.

In high school, our drill team also had chrome-plated 03-A3's. I always thought they were fairly common among drill teams, except for the USMC (they've always used M1's).

That's a great find, and seeing it brings back some great service memories.
I've seen pictures of the ones that the 3rd Infantry drill team uses. They also tape their fixed bayonets on the rifles.

Sure would like to find a chromed bayonet for this one!

John
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Old 04-04-2011, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by PALADIN85020 View Post
The U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry (The Old Guard) drill team uses them. This is the outfit that guards the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington.
It looks like the actual guards use M-14s. Probably don't fly as smoothly when you fling them up in the air.

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Old 04-04-2011, 11:17 PM
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For the record, I am jealous.
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Old 04-05-2011, 08:30 AM
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Well it looks like my sons dream-de-jour is possible. I's lusting after a 1903 to complete his Used-In-Multiple-Wars-Triplet. He has a Mosin and a SMLE and now wants a 1903 to complete it.

Perhaps this weekend in Boone. Fingers, eyes, toes and ears crossed.

Great job BTW, a wonderful find.

B2
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Old 12-05-2015, 03:57 PM
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Default Update on my search for a chromed bayonet!



I'm pleased to report that my M1903A3 chromed parade/drill rifle is now replete with a matching chromed bayonet! I found this one at a gun show yesterday, complete with a scabbard that also has its metal parts plated.

While some don't care for these rifles (which I understand), I find them really interesting. I understand the Director of Civilian Marksmanship (modern day CMP) once released many of these chromed rifles for sale. Many were loaned to American Legion posts and other veterans organizations for ceremonially firing blank volleys at vets' funerals. One wonders over how many such events this particular rifle was fired.

I predict that in the future these shiny rifles, many plated by the government itself, will become sought after collector items, and all the more so with a matching bayonet.

I was at a changing of the guard ceremony at Arlington in September, and I noted that the guards' M14 bayonets were chrome plated and fitted with wooden scales. I researched this and discovered that 1,100 of them were ordered by the 3rd Infantry (Old Guard) that protects the Tomb of the Unknowns. These are the only plated M14 bayonets officially extant and in themselves would be valued collector items.

Thought I'd share my joy at finding an appropriate chromed bayonet for my '03A3 rifle - took me over four years!

John
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Old 12-05-2015, 04:05 PM
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Thanks for posting that John. It takes me back to high school ROTC. We practiced with parkerized versions with nylon stocks as the wooden stocks would shatter to bits when dropped. We had very nice chrome plated versions with shellacked stocks for parades and competitions. Our versions had a piece of round stock welded in the breech. I would have loved to been able to fire blanks during our routines.

If you come across another live version for $200 or so, drop me a line
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Old 12-05-2015, 04:10 PM
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Congratulations on your find! That's a beautiful example.

We had identical chrome-plated bayonets for our 03-A3's. We had a white vinyl cover for the scabbard. We had the carpentry shop take a couple of old 03-A3 stocks and make blank scales for us. We'd then file and sand until they fitted the bayonet perfectly. We then finished them to match our rifle stocks.

Most of us used Tru Oil for the stock and bayonet finishes. It was pretty much goof proof.
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Old 12-05-2015, 08:48 PM
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When I was a wee lad, I remember the local American Legion post had both chromed 1903s (don't remember if they were A3s) and chromed .30-40 Krags, and I think the stocks were painted white. AL Color guards in Memorial Day (now Veterans Day) and 4th of July parades carried them. I also remember the M1903s being fired in salutes at the local cemetery - they had a veterans burial area there. For all I know they are still in use, but unlikely. Too warlike.
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Old 12-05-2015, 09:23 PM
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John, you need a nickel plated 1911 to carry with that.
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Old 12-06-2015, 02:46 PM
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I took the opportunity this morning to photograph the complete rig! I think I have a chrome helmet somewhere, too - probably buried in a box in the garage...

John

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Old 12-06-2015, 02:54 PM
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Beautiful rifle and the bayonet is the icing on the cake. Congratulations on your purchases.

If you get time, I'm sure we'd all love to see some detail photographs of the rifle, and a few more of the bayonet.
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Old 12-06-2015, 02:54 PM
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John, you need a nickel plated 1911 to carry with that.
It's not strictly G.I., but this one might do...!!

John

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Old 12-06-2015, 02:59 PM
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Thanks for the postings and the photos...................

Reminds me of my high school days in California where I carried a 1903-A3 on campus and on bivouac in the Southern California mountains - we had a firing range with Maggies Drawers and pits and every thing.............what fun.

Again - thanks!!
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Old 12-06-2015, 03:11 PM
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Beautiful rifle and the bayonet is the icing on the cake. Congratulations on your purchases.

If you get time, I'm sure we'd all love to see some detail photographs of the rifle, and a few more of the bayonet.
Sure. Hope these will do.

John



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Old 12-06-2015, 07:44 PM
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Absolutely beautiful! Great looking wood and the white sling is a huge plus!

If you shoot it on a sunny day, make sure you wear your darkest sunglasses or shoot it under a covered firing line! Please post pictures of the groups, those A3's are tack drivers!
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Old 12-21-2015, 04:28 PM
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Default Parade 1903/a3

Still looking for a parade scabbard for 1917 parade bayonet. Weapon marked 6-43 complete chrome and functions as designed. I got lucky and have two 1917 parade bayonets but this was part of a display and no scabbards were found.
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Old 09-22-2016, 04:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PALADIN85020 View Post
At the Phoenix gun show yesterday, I picked up an unusual addition to my U.S. military rifle collection. This is a model 1903A3 rifle on which the metal parts have been completely chrome plated for drill team, honor guard, color guard, parade and ceremonial use. Now some will tell you that these are not considered U.S. issue arms. I have to differ on that.

The U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry (The Old Guard) drill team uses them. This is the outfit that guards the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington. Their drill team is a spit and polish group, among the best at what they do. The CMP recently sold a number that had been plated by the Navy and deactivated so that they could not fire. They sold for $525 each. The Springfield Armory Museum has a few examples in their collection, which they obtained from Rock Island Arsenal. It's unknown if RIA did the work, however.

My example is a Remington, with a 4-groove barrel marked "3-43" that's in pretty good shape. It's fully functional and is capable of firing live ammo. It's unusual in that even the rear sight is fully plated. Many used standard blued rear sights, and some had the rear sight (sometimes even the front sight) removed completely to prevent injury when twirling the rifles in fancy drill.

I remember when I was in college ROTC, I was on a drill team, and we used them. Most of the rear sights had been knocked off.

At any rate, I chose from about 8 rifles that were similar; they came from a collector of these plated rifles who had deceased; his family was disposing of them for $250 each, although I managed to sweet-talk them into letting me have one for $200. I noted that the barrel needed cleaning - it might have been used for graveside ceremonial blank firing by a veterans' group. The lands and grooves are still fairly sharp with just a trace of frostiness.

This one is equipped with an original white parade sling; now all I need is a chromed bayonet to complete the setup - I've seen them for sale from time to time. Maybe someone here has one????

John

Here's a photo:

I have started up a new youth group called the sidewinder squadron we are part of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps. I am trying to see if anyone could donate some 1903s to us for are color guard we do not have the funds right now to buy them we borrow the flags from the Navy base here in Ridgecrest can anyone tell me if there is any place that would donate these to us?
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Old 09-22-2016, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Muley Gil View Post
Very nice. Great looking wood on that one.

During my cop days, I investigated a burglary at a funeral home. While checking a closet, I found a number of nickel plated '03s and '03A3s. These were used for military funerals.
Similar story. I once had a friend who was a retired mortician. He told me he had some M1903s (maybe 03A3s?) in his funeral home for military funerals. He really wasn't a gun guy, so I don't know what they actually were. Lots of American Legion and VFW posts had these "beautified" rifles for parade and ceremonial use. I remember back in my old home town, the Legion had nickeled or chromed Krags with stocks painted white that always came out for Memorial Day parades. When I was in college (Navy ROTC) the drill team used standard 03A3s, with the firing pins shortened. But the barrels were not plugged. I cleaned them many times, part of the ritual even though they were never fired. The Marine Gunny always did the inspection routine to see that the bores were nice and shiny. I remember once he said something like "If there's an actual emergency, I'll issue firing pins and ammo to you guys" Of course that never happened, but as it was back in the Cuban Missile Crisis days, I guess it possibly could have.

Last edited by DWalt; 09-22-2016 at 06:13 PM.
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Old 11-09-2017, 10:22 PM
S&W5906 S&W5906 is offline
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Well John, I too had to have a chromed M1903A3. But mine is a little bit more special. In 1988 I paid a visit to Crane NSWC to inspect and get ready to move a 1945 Army Hospital Unit Car (USA 89436 to be exact ). At the end of my first visit I paid my respects to both the Army and Navy COs there. Hanging on the Navy CO's office wall was a chromed 1903A3.
Fast forward to Nov of 2016 and the CMP auctions off a chromed Navy 1903A3. While it will never fire again, it does have something most do not have. This:
Closeup is at:
Google Photos

The plaque reads:
Dummy Rifle
MK 5 MOD 1
NWSC Crane, IN

While that is what the plaque says, it does not meet the specs as spelled out by Brophy for what the Navy was going to do to them. It does meet the specs for the MOD 0 version with added differences of the MOD 1. Should we call it a MOD 1/2?
It is joined in my collection by a Navy US Training Rifle of 1917, A Parris-Dunn USN Training Rifle, a low number SA 1903, a barreled receiver of a first year Rock Island 1903, a sporterized Remington 1903A3, and a regular SC 1903A3. If I swapped barrels of the LN SA and the FY RI, they both would end up with the same manufacture's barrels as the receivers and the SA would have it for the right year even.

Now you need to get a set of chrome plated Al grips for your bayonet.
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Old 11-10-2017, 12:55 AM
RdrBill RdrBill is offline
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All.
One of these changed tables at the Yuma gun show this weekend.
Model 1903 1905 barrel date and very early serial number. Very early style wood. Had one of those funny name slings.
No buckle or nor buckle.
Bill@Yuma
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Old 11-11-2017, 03:45 PM
ordnanceguy ordnanceguy is offline
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Had one of those funny name slings. No buckle or nor buckle. Bill@Yuma
Hi Bill:

You are probably referring to the Kerr "NoBuckl" Adjustable Rifle Sling.

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Old 11-13-2017, 01:44 PM
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Hi Bill:

You are probably referring to the Kerr "NoBuckl" Adjustable Rifle Sling.

The Kerr canvas slings were pretty much standard equipment on 1917 Enfields and the WWII Thompson submachine guns.

John



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Old 03-03-2018, 08:37 AM
S&W5906 S&W5906 is offline
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It's not strictly G.I., but this one might do...!!

John

Nope, won't do. What you need to go with it is a Colt Silver Star 45.
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Old 03-03-2018, 08:54 AM
M2A2 M2A2 is offline
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We want a range report!!
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Old 03-03-2018, 10:11 AM
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When I was appointed Honor Guard Captain of my American Legion Post, during weapon inventory I found four Model 1903 Parade Rifles. Wood had been painted white and the metal had been sprayed flat black. The bores was plugged with rust from firing WWI blanks and not cleaned. I was informed that two of the rifles would not fire.I refinished the wood (not an easy job)and the metal (not an easy job neither). The bores were cleaned and surprising turned out fairly good. The reason two rifles would not fire was apart was some time in the past someone had taken the bolts apart and didn't bother to assembly all the parts back. The rifles are now back in original issue condition.
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