1903a4 to Restore or not to restore?
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Thread: 1903a4 to Restore or not to restore?

  1. #1
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    Default 1903a4 to Restore or not to restore?

    Looking for opinions on this rifle. I am considering a restoration project and hoping to get some advise on mistakes that could be made or pitfalls that could lay ahead. Also. would it be worth my time and $$? Thanks in advance.





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  2. #2
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    relatively easy restore, considering,
    will likely not be worth want an original unmolested example is, but should be worth the money to get it even close,
    what's so funny about peace love and understanding?

  3. #3
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    Purists of the world, unite!

    “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”
    Samuel Adams

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  5. #4
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    Hope you get to feeling better Richard in NY........I sure didn't mean to make you cry.

  6. #5
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    I am not sure I would put in the effort. The receiver has already been buffed pretty hard and blued, Not sure what the barrel is. The parts are expensive and you cannot change the look of the received. JMHO though.

  7. #6
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    I'm with Rescue190,the receiver has been heavily buffed and will never look correct and as much as I hate to see this it is a in my opinion a nice looking rifle.

  8. #7
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    Man, that is a beautiful rifle. Leave it alone, what is done is done, that too is part of it's history.

    That is a genuine piece of Americana.

    Wish it were mine, what a great hunting rifle for the mountains of Montana.

  9. #8
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    Other than what has been said, the barrel is another possibly major problem. you do not show the muzzle? has it been cut ? If so then a new barrel will be needed - more expense. Might be one of those $400 rifle, add $600 parts & work, and still have a $400 rifle.

  10. #9

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    What sssniper said. I've built a few 03A3 clones from salvaged drill rifle receivers. You don't show the front sight , muzzle area. You probably would need a new barrel. What you have right now is a beautifully , professionally done piece of Americanna . JOHN

  11. #10
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    Without a doubt, restore it.

  12. #11
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    I'd leave it alone. Looks like it has been nicely done as far as Sporterizing goes.

  13. #12
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    Leave it alone! During the days of cheap surplus, someone put in the money/time/effort to make a beautiful hunting rifle, and it is a beaut. I have a sporterized trapdoor rifle, and I wouldn't dream of "restoring" it. Heck, I like it better than my full stocked original. Milsurps were, at one time, considered as just a cheap way to get a hunting rifle. Not all of them can, or should be, "restored". It is a masterpiece as is, and should be used and appreciated. Just my humble opinion....

  14. #13
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    I have never been a fan of modifying old warhorses like this one. Having said that, some very impressive work has been put into this rifle. As for me...I would leave it like it is, you can never go back!
    MOLON LABE

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  15. #14
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    Agreed, restore it. A good Parkerizing job will go a long way in camouflaging the receiver buffing. 03A3 barrels are still inexpensive so that shouldn't be a problem. I have most of the small parts you can have pretty cheap if that helps. Plus I saw an M73B1 scope on the board complete with rings. I think they wanted $1k for it. Thanks Nap

  16. #15
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    Leave it alone - you have nothing to restore - even the receiver has been drilled & tapped - it is impossible to restore now!

  17. #16
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    Being an 03A4 the receiver was drilled and tapped at the factory to mount the M-73B1 in the first place so that's not an issue. It wasn't much of a sporter job when it was done and has much more historical significance as an 03A4. So I'd restore it! Thanks Nap

  18. #17
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    Default It will only be original once

    Quote Originally Posted by Buster Hams View Post
    Looking for opinions on this rifle. I am considering a restoration project and hoping to get some advise on mistakes that could be made or pitfalls that could lay ahead. Also. would it be worth my time and $$? Thanks in advance.
    It's a good looking hunting rifle now or a mediocre sort-of-restored 1903A4 later (unless you're turning it and your bank account over to Doug Turnbull). I'd leave it alone and enjoy shooting it, then look for a good deal on an original or arsenal restored original (what I did). I still can't find an original scope for mine and had to put a Lyman Alaskan on it instead. The struggle is real man!

  19. #18
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    I'd pass, due to the buffing.
    Easy restore, but no way to make that buffing go away; but the pieces are not cheap- so don't "waste" your money chasing the rainbow. JMHO.
    03man - Don Voigt
    Author of "The Japanese T99 Arisaka Rifle" 2010 edition
    Co-author of "The Knee Mortars of Japan 1921-1945" 2011 edition
    Near Charlotte, NC

  20. #19
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    Hmmm....it is stamped O3A3. What makes it an O3A4?

    In any case, it is beautiful. It would be a very, very difficult decision for me to even consider restoring it.

  21. #20
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    I too have a nicely sporterized A4. I think someone specifically sought out and bought this A4 with the express purpose of building an exceptional hunting rifle ( jeweled bolt etc ). I`ve toyed with the idea of restoring it but decided it would not really be worth the trouble. It is a terrific hunting rifle so I do enjoy its` provenance. Nice to see another still being used.

  22. #21
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    Very cool rifle. If it were me, I'd convert it back to as close to original as possible. You don't see that many A4 receivers, you've got one. I just like to try to bring these old sniper rifles back if possible. And that one could
    be done nicely. Just me, I like the original look. Or just take it out and shoot it. Nice find.

  23. #22
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    I would keep it as is. Nice example of a sporterized version.

  24. #23
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    Someone asked...."What makes it a A4 receiver".......The makers mark and serial numbers are marked different on the A4 rifles. They left a large blank space on top of the receiver and moved the markings out to the very edges so as not to obstruct the markings with the scope base they intended to mount to the rifle.

  25. #24
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    Restore it. Would make a fun project. Once an A4 would be a much more enjoyable rifle to shoot.
    Everyone's your friend until the rent comes in!

  26. #25
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    Leave it alone. In current condition, the previous owner did a ver deliberate job of what he wanted and executed a very nicely restored rifle albeit mismatched. The receiver having been hard buffed slurring the print and redye have already nixed the resale value. Just enjoy it
    or send it to me

  27. #26
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    How does it shoot? If it is a good shooter I would definately keep it in this condition.

  28. #27
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    Good sporterized military rifles have risen in value over the years. The cost to sporterize a military rifle would not be cheap today (of course today you wouldn't).
    I agree with many of the other members, leave it as is and enjoy. With hand loads it should shoot well, keep us updated on its accuracy.

  29. #28
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    Leave it alone. It is a beautiful sporterized version of a great war horse. Why it was done and whether it should have been are arguments for all times but it has been done rather nicely. If it points and shoots as well as it looks I would never even think about trying to revert it back to it's former self.
    Take your time and money and look for a war horse that has not been changed and may only need a few pieces or parts to make it 100%. They are still out there. This one belongs on the shoulder of a high mountain wintertime hunter out after food for the house.

    If it does not fit your style sell it to make even more money to find and covet what your after.

  30. #29
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    Is a very good shooter. It will shoot inch groups with greek surplus and clover leafs with handloads. Im very happy with the rifle and will just leave it be. At least it is a 03 that i can tolerate with optics on it. I cant hardly live with one that has been drilled and tapped that is not supposed to be, lol. Thanks for all the suggestions and opinions fellows. I value every single one. Travis

  31. #30

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    My suspicion is that this is one of those myriads of threads that is started to create a false debate where the op already knows what he plans to do! My only insight is that once the horse has left the barn, no real collector will have much interest in the "restored" version.

  32. #31
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    The receiver's been buffed too much. It will never again look proper and you'll be hard pressed to get a return on your investment after getting it back to its original appearance.

  33. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Euzkadian View Post
    My suspicion is that this is one of those myriads of threads that is started to create a false debate where the op already knows what he plans to do! My only insight is that once the horse has left the barn, no real collector will have much interest in the "restored" version.
    Your suspicion is unfounded. I was indeed considering restoring the rifle and have nothing to gain from a "false debate"......im not sure anyone would. Good day.

  34. #33
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    You've made the right decision IMHO. That is a beautiful rifle that I would love to have. I have a Remington and a Springfield, both milsurps that I paid about $800 each for 2 years ago. You can still find them for that and less.

  35. #34
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    Buster, if you have all (or most) of the correct parts on hand and assuming the barrel is ok I'd say go for it and do the resto. You're into an accurate representation for low $$, since there are aspects of the rifle that you cannot correct (buffed action and bolt handle) chasing high dollar items such as correct scope will of course not be worth it. Watch the gun shows for a Lyman Alaskan/ Weaver K2.5 or spring for a reproduction M73B1/M81/82. I prefer the M82 style (Alaskan with post) and you can still find those cheap. So you're looking at:

    C stock and hand guard (recommend Minelli)
    Hardware (butt plate, lower swivel, hg ring, upper swivel/band, stacking swivel/band, bayo lug and all screws)
    Correct trigger guard assy
    Correct safety
    Scope
    Last edited by Randy A; 04-21-2017 at 09:51 PM.

  36. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Novalondon View Post
    This one belongs on the shoulder of a high mountain wintertime hunter out after food for the house.
    It sure does! I'm sure the op made the correct decision, leaving it as it is.

  37. #36
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    Leave it alone. Save your dollars you would spend trying to restore it back to original which is not possible. You could cover up what was done but it will never be factory original and collectible again. It has a new life as a sporterized hunter rifle.

    Go buy yourself a real piece of history and then you'll have two nice rifles- just different.

  38. #37

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    Buster Hams, you have gotten all the good reasons to restore or not to restore. So, it is up to you.

    In my opinion, restoring is a waste of time, unless when the job is done, collectors will not be able to tell your "restored" rifle from any other US Mod. 03A4 that has simply had parts replaced by the Ordnance Dept. of the US Military. With what has been done to your very nice, tasteful "sporter" rifle, the worst, in terms of a restoration is that the buffing took all the sharpness out of the metal stampings. This is a dead give away to anyone who's dealt with milsurp firearms for any length of time. As soon as they run a finger over those stampings and feel the smoothed out, rounding out of the edges, they will know.

    Some years ago, I got a complete 03A4 from DCM and hung it in my clock shop, with a "Not For Sale" sign on it. A man asked to see it and then, began to make offers. I kept saying, "Mister, that rifle is not for sale!" He wanted to know if I had the DCM paper and box and I told him that I did. When he went beyond $4000 with his offers, I decided that I just did not like that 03A4 as much as I thought I had, and he went out the door, a proud owner of what had been my 03A4, all dressed out with scope, mounts, sling, etc.

    Any collector would want to go over your restored 03A4, before making a serious offer. As far as your restoring it and keeping it, the pride of ownership will just never be there, as it would, if you had the real thing that had not at one time been bubba-ized.

    Good luck in all of your collectiing,
    Steven

  39. #38

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    Too far gone. Enjoy as-is! The other parts required are expensive and better suited to restore a less molested gun.

  40. #39
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    Apparently 03a4 receivers grow on trees, enough so that you can pitch one into the crapper and move along. With a blast and repark this receiver wouldn't look too bad. It'll never be perfect, with with some money and repro parts it'll be a good representative piece.

  41. #40
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    I had a similar 03A4 that is still in the process of being put right. Not blued like yours but the knucklehead had cut 1.5 inches off the end of the barrel when they "improved" it. A great barrel with a correct 3-43 date with four grooves was a hard find but I just found it. All the parts are out there-it will just take time and $$$ to get the right ones. Most of the 1903A4's have been arsenal rebuilt at one time or another, so rebuilding it again is not so far fetched. There were only slightly less than 30,000 made. I would restore it.

  42. #41

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    Since the barrels were not special, replacing a barrel on a 03A4, is an easy task and not overly expensive. The receiver, with the stamped legends rolled to either side, is the only part that is special on the 03A4. Some were returned to regular service, thus none were ever stamped as "03A4",a but simply "03A3". Also, a true "03A4" barrel, will not have the small markings up where the front sight was mounted, caused by the steel pin being hammer cross wise, to secure the front sight. So, to look "correct" the replacement barrel has to have never been on the common 03A3. or it will have the tell tale marks where the front sight would be.
    So, okay, you have a somewhat rare receiver to build on. But, it has been buffed to death and blued very nicely. My position is, in terms of value, after you have "restored" the "03A4" receiver, it will not be worth any more than a common 03A3 on which you mount all the sniper rifle parts. Unless you find a buyer who does not know what to look for. I am, in no way implying that as your goal. But the facts are, when milsurp is faked and/restored, it becomes "original, as issued", once it passes through two hands.
    Every one should spend their money on those things of their own choosing.
    Steven

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