Click Photo to Enlarge
U.S. Smith-Corona 1903-A3
My father brought this combat rifle back from the European theatre of war in 1945. My Father served as a radio operator on a C-47 in the 302nd Troop Carrier Squadron from April 1943 until honorably discharged in November 1945. His squadron participated in the Overlord, Dragon, Market-Garden and Varsity campaigns in World War II. The 302nd’squadron’s primary mission in the war was dropping paratroopers and gliders in combat zones. When not on a specific combat mission, the 302nd flew supplies and ordinance where needed [Bastogne], and flew the battlefield wounded to hospitals in England.
He was also a photography enthusiast taking hundreds of pictures of his military experiences, exploits and the numerous air bases where he served. I have included a picture he took of a paratrooper of the 82nd Airborne preparing for Operation Market Garden on Septrmber 17th, 1944 from Nottingham England.He is carrying a 03-A3 rifle.
Growing up, the only time I saw my father with the gun was when he marched with the local VFW post in hometown parades. My siblings and I played with it as kids [he removed the firing pin], but all I remember is how heavy it was. As a child, I always thought that the gun would not fire because he had the barrel welded shut at the top as well as removing the firing pin. It basically stayed in a locked storage closet in his home for 42 years. Upon my father’s death in 1987, I inherited the gun. Thinking it more a souvenir than an actual firing rifle, I kept it locked away and out of mind for the next 45 years until last winter when I became interested in the history of the gun and wanted to find out if it could be fired.
I researched the history of the rifle through gun dealers, internet sites and hours of YouTube tutorials. My U.S Smith-Corolla 03-A3, Serial # 3670061, is stamped SC 4-43 on the barrel with the flame bomb logo though the flame is slightly different than on most 03-A3’s I have observed. The letter “P” is also stamped on the underside of the barrel at the top. Most of the machined parts are not stamped, but I did find a stamped “R” on the underside of the bolt at the root, rear of the safety, rear strap swivel bracket and the bayonet bracket. I believe the butt plate to be Remington to due to the number of squares per inch [Per NRA research] stamped into the butt plate. There is also a small “A” stamped on the side of the site at the top of the barrel.
I could only find one discernable stamp on the stock. I have searched every square inch of the walnut stock with a magnifying glass and all I observed was a “V” on the underside of the gun above the magazine guard. There appears to be letters stamped above the trigger as is usual for all the 03-A3’s I saw, but on this rifle, they can’t be interpreted clearly and look nowhere near the symbol’s/ letters on other rifles of this make. I found no arsenal, refurbishing or proof stamps.
Thanks to Guns International and You Tube, I leaned the best and professional method to clean this rifle. I also learned how to take it entirely apart including the firing mechanism and reassemble it. I cleaned the soiled and grungy walnut stock with Murphy’s oil soap and very fine steel wool. After cleaned and dried, I finished the stock with boiled linseed oil which greatly enhanced the original finish. The minor dents, scratches and dings are normal wear and tear for a military gun of this age.
To my delight, the barrel was clear but packed with a brown grease. I ran a rod and cotton through the barrel with gun oil until I achieved a pristine surface. All the machined metal parts were cleaned with “gun” oil, very fine steel wool and Q-tips. All the machined parts are in excellent condition and function flawlessly. As my father removed the original firing pin, I purchased a new firing pin and firing pin holder from Numrich Gun Parts. All the metal stamped parts were also cleaned with gun oil and fine steel wool to their original finish.
Once I had fully cleaned and oiled the gun the next step was to shoot it. I took it to a local indoor gun range and had their on-site gun smith check it thoroughly prior to my firing it. He gave a clean bill of health to the gun and commented on the great condition it’s in. The O3-A3 fires a 30-06 round which I purchased from Ammo. I only fired a few rounds and surprisingly, at 25 yards hit the center of the target each time, though not a “bulls eye”. I also was surprised by the power of the gun. Though having watched many videos of 03-A3 shooters, I still was not prepared for the kick back. My shoulder was sore for two days.
The next time I fired the gun was with my adult son at an outdoor range. We had a ball shooting the gun and hit the target each time at 100 yards, so I know the gun is accurate. I love the gun but due to my present financial circumstances, I need to sell it. I am confident that whoever winds up purchasing the rifle, will have a fine firearm and a genuine piece of American military history in their collection.
Rifle Caliber: .30-06 Springfield
Serial Number: 3670061
Barrel Length: 24
Bore Info: 4 groove
Condition: Very Good
Metal Condition: Very Good
Wood Condition: Very Good
Bore Condition: Excellent
Stock: Walnut Wood
Butt Pad: Stamped Metal
Weight: 9 pounds
Manufacture Date: Barrel- 4/1943