US M1903-A4 & USMC M1903-A1/Unertl

The M1903 Springfield, formally the United States Rifle, Caliber .30-06, Model 1903, is an American clip-fed, 5-shot, bolt-action service rifle used primarily during the first half of the 20th century.

It was officially adopted as a United States military bolt-action rifle on June 21, 1905, and saw service in World War I. It was officially replaced as the standard infantry rifle by the faster-firing, semi-automatic 8 round M1 Garand, starting in 1937. However, the M1903 Springfield remained in service as a standard issue infantry rifle during World War II, since the U.S. entered the war without sufficient M1 rifles to arm all troops. It also remained in service as a sniper rifle during World War II, the Korean War and even in the early stages of the Vietnam War. It remains popular as a civilian firearm, historical collector's piece and as a military drill rifle.

USMC M1903-A1/Unertl
Unlike the US Army, the USMC had a standard issue sniper rifle at the start of hostilities in WWII, it was a M1903/Lyman 5A (5x), which was adopted (with the Winchester A5 Telescope) during WWI. After there was a push to standardize sniper equipment, the Marine Corps Equipment Board did an extensive study of optics under field conditions and recommended a scope of about 8x, with an objective lens of about one and half inches, a medium fine crosshair reticle, and double micrometer quarter minute click mounts. They specifically cited a 8x target scope made by John Unertl as being the best they found. They also recommended the scope be mounted on a Winchester M70 target rifle, but the USMC decided on the M1903 based on favorable accuracy comparisons between specially selected M1903's and the M70. So the M1903-A1 mounted with the Unertl 8x became the "sniping standard" in the USMC.

The M1903-A1/Unertl was tested and at 600 yards and with M72 Match ammo would group 3.5 inches (.58 MOA, wow!!!) but match ammo was about impossible to come by during the war, so most snipers had to settle with M2 Ball ammo, which was till respectable with groups coming in at 7.5" at 600 yards (1.25 MOA). The M1903-A1/Unertl was used by the USMC through out WWII, along with the M1903-A4. The -A1/Unertl also saw use during the Korean war, with USMC snipers registering a number of kills out to 1000 yards. Like the M1903-A4 the M1903-A1/Unertl was a lethal system in the hands of a properly trained sniper during WWII and Korea. 


  • M1903 (1903)— developed for the .30-03 (also known as the .30-45) cartridge. Used original Type S stock.
    • M1903 Bullpup (1903)- experimental bullpup conversion for the USMC.[18]
    • M1903 (1905)— changed from a rod type bayonet to the knife type Model 1905 bayonet and to the improved Model 1905 sight.
    • M1903 (1906)— modified again to specifically fire the new M1906 .30-06 cartridge ("Ball Cartridge, caliber 30, Model of 1906").
    • M1903 NRA (1915-1917) sold to National Rifle Association members and stamped NRA on the forward tang of the trigger guard.[19]
    • M1903 Air Service (1918) issued to aircrew with permanent 25 round magazine and modified Type S stock forend.
    • M1903 Mark I (~1918-1920)— modified for specific use with the Pedersen device.
  • M1903A1 (1930–1939)— changed from a straight stock to a pistol grip type stock (Type C stock). Nearly all M1903A1s were sold as National Match rifles until World War II.[citation needed]
  • M1903A2 (1930s–40s)— basically a stripped A1 or A3 used as a subcaliber rifle with artillery pieces.
  • M1903A3 (1942)— modified for easier production with stamped metal parts and somewhat different grip and stock (late model Type S stock; no finger grooves).
  • M1903A4 (1942)— an M1903A3 modified to be a sniper rifle using an M73 or M73B1 2.2X Weaver telescopic sight and different stock.
  • M1903 Bushmaster carbine (1940s)— the barrel and stock were cut down 18 inches (460 mm) for easier use in Panama; 4,725 such rifles were made. It was a training rifle and saw no action. After World War II most were dumped into the ocean and surviving pieces are rare.

Caliber .30 or 30-'06, Model 1903, Springfield '03

Type Bolt-action rifle
Place of origin  United States
Service history
In service 1903–1957
Wars World War I
World War II
Second Sino-Japanese War
Chinese Civil War
Cuban Revolution
Korean War
Vietnam War (limited)
Production history
Designer Springfield Armory
Designed 1902
Variants See Variants
Weight 8.67 lb (3.9 kg) depending on wood density
Length 43.9 in (1,115 mm)
Barrel length 24 in (610 mm)

Cartridge .30-03 Springfield; .30-06 Springfield
Action Bolt-action
Rate of fire 15 rounds/min
Muzzle velocity 2,800 ft/s (853 m/s)
Effective range 656 yd (600 m)
Maximum range 1,200 yd (1,097 m)
Feed system 5-round, 25-round(Air Service variant) stripper clip, internal box magazine
Sights Flip-up rear sight, barleycorn-type front sight
: Aperture rear sight, barleycorn-type front sight

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