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Thread: USMC M1941 Sniper's Rifle

  1. #1
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    USMC M1941 Sniper's Rifle

    During World War 2, the U.S. Marines fielded Scout-Sniper units armed with the Springfield M1941 Sniper's rifle. The M1941 was based on the M1903A1 National Match Springfield and was topped with the Unertl 8-power target scope. The Unertl had a fixed crosshair reticle and was externally adjustable for windage and elevation. The scope floated in the rings on spring-loaded buttons and was free to move in recoil. The theory was that the rifle would move back in recoil and the scope would move forward. The shift in masses would cancel each other out and there would be minmal affect on accuracy.

    Unertl scopes were 8-power units and were marked "USMC Sniper" with a serial number. When the Marines built-up these rifles at their Philadelphia Depot, the rifle's bolts were usually engraved with the serial number of the scope. As issued, the Unertl scope came with a carrying case. However, once the scope was mounted to the rifle, it was rarely removed. The scope had screw-in covers for both the occular and objective lenses.

    My rifle is a replica of the M1941 Springield Sniper's. The rifle has a 4-groove barrel like the orginals, except it has not been star gauged for accuracy. Unlike the original Unertl scopes, my replica sports a 12-power target scope with the compensating spring (this spring was not used on genuine USMC Sniper's rifles). This Springfield has been given the National Match improvements of the original M1903A1 NM rifles.

    And how does it shoot? Well, once I dialed-in the zero, the 100-yard group for five shots could be covered with a quarter and I was using G.I. .30 M2 Ball ammunition from the late 1950s. I haven't shot it with Federal .30 Match Ammunition, but I expect great things with this rifle and scope.

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    Springfield M1903A4 Sniper's Rifle

    The M1 Garand rifle superseded the M1903 Springfield in 1937 and it was phased-out of production. When war began in Europe on 1 September 1939, Americans decided to hedge their bets and restarted M1903A1 production at Remington Arms. The initial Remington Arms M1903A1 rifles were identical to the last models produced at Springfield Arsenal before its change-over to the M1 Garand. The M1903A1 as built by Remington was ill-suited to mass production that would be required for wartime procurement. Remington undertook a redesign of the Springfield design and came up with the M1903A3 rifle. The new rifle replaced most of the forged and milled parts of the M1903A1 with stampings: butt plate, sling and stacking swivels, front and rear bands, and trigger guard. The '03A3 replaced the complex M1903A1 rear sight with a much simpler and smaller adjustable unit that mounted at the rear of the receiver bridge instead of on the barrel. The barrel contour of the '03A3 was simplifed over that of the M1903A1.

    After American entered World War 2 on 8 December 1941, the Army realized that it needed a dedicated Sniper's rifle. Remington said the '03A3 could easily be converted to fit the bill and the M1903A4 Sniper's rifle was born.

    The '03A4 Sniper's rifle removed both the front and rear iron sights of the '03A3. The bolt of the '03A3 was bent and reformed so that it would clear the mounted telescopic sight. The Weaver 330 scope with Redfield rings and base was selected for mounting on the rifle's receiver. Initially, the full pistol grip Type C stock was fitted. Later, the Type S, semi-pistol grip stock was issued with the rifle. The Type S was designed for wartime conditions -- the adoption of a semi-pistol grip allowed the use of stock blanks that would not have been otherwise suitable.

    The '03A4 Sniper's was used by the U.S. Army, although some found their way to the U.S. Marine Corps. The USMC prefered their purpose-built M1941 Sniper's rifles. Both the M1941 and the '03A4 soldiered-on throughout the Korean War in decreasing numbers. Some were taken out of war reserve stocks and saw some early use during the Vietnam War. The Weaver 330 scope proved fragile in-service and was replaced by the M73B1. During the Korean War and afterwards, as the Weaver and M73B1 scopes became unserviceable, they were replaced by the M84 scope used on the M1C and M1D Sniper's rifles.

  3. #3
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    That is a very cool and unique combo on your A1!
    What receiver is the repro built on?
    Did you build it? Is it a G.I stock,or a Boyd? Where did you find the scope?

    That is something you don't see every day,and I eat,sleep and breathe rifles.


    I would love to see some more pics of it.
    " Little by little the look of the country changes because of the men we admire. "


    HANG IN THERE
    WE'LL BE BACK!

  4. #4

    Charlie Don't Surf

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    Ok, I want one too damnit!
    In those moments where you're not quite sure if the undead are really dead, dead, don't get all stingy with your bullets.

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    The M1903A1 I used was built from a kit. Sarco had a bunch of reimported Springfields brought-in from South America about 20 years ago. The receiver is a Springfield high 900,000 receiver. The barrel is a 4-groove 1944 date. This is an original Type C stock. The original rifle was assembled by a friend at work. He made sure that he got all milled parts for the rifle, however he did not get the heavily checkered NM butt plate. I had to look around to find one of those.

    I found the 12-power Unertl in Shotgun News. It ran about $400 at the time and came with the compensating spring and front and rear rings (no end caps though and I'm still looking).

    Clint Fowler Rifles, Barboursville, VA did the conversion work. Clint set up the M1903A1 to NM specifications that I supplied to him. He freefloated the barrel (except for the end that touches the front band) and bedded the action in the stock. He lapped the bolt for smooth operation, like the original NM rifles. Clint relieved the upper handguard for the front scope block. He had to make the front and rear scope blocks. He was able to install the front scope block to the barrel. Howerver, he could not drill and tap the Springfield's hardened receiver. I had to get that done at a local machine shop.

    I took the barrelded receiver and scope to the machine shop that had done some work for a friend with a race car. The shop had an electrical discharge machine that was able to remove broken-off studs and retap them. We used the EDM machine to bore and thread the holes in the hardened receiver ring.

    After all this was done, I finished assembling the rifle and was ready to go.

    If you wanted to replicate a similar rifle, the first thing you'd need is the M1903A1 rifle. After you have that, you'll probably need to find the checkered NM butt plate. You'll have to find the Unertl scope and rings. You'll have to make the scope blocks for the receiver ring and the barrel, relieve the upper handguard for the barrel block and braze the block to the barrel. You'll then have to EDM the holes for the rear block in the receiver ring. Accurizing the Springfield is another touch, but if your going to this much trouble to replicate the rifle, you might as well do that too.

    I figure you'll probably invest $1,500 to $2,000 in this project depending on where you find your rifle, scope, gunsmithing, and other items.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the great historical information, and sharing the story of your rifle with us.

    Tanker and I agree this should be a sticky.
    " Little by little the look of the country changes because of the men we admire. "


    HANG IN THERE
    WE'LL BE BACK!

  7. #7
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    Nice rifle.I have a Smith Corona 1944,with heavy barrel and Redfield adjustable sights.From Pendelton used fior the shooting team.

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    M1903 Rifle for the M1918 Pedersen Device

    One of my proudest acquistions is a World War 1 Springfield 1903 Mark 1 rifle. This was one of the rifles modifed to use the "Pistol, Cal. 30, M1918" or Pedersen Device. The Pedersen device was a self-contained semi-auto pistol that replaced the bolt of the M1903 rifle.

    To install the Pedersen, all you had to do was flip the bolt cutoff to the middle position, pull out the .30-06 bolt, inser the Pedersen device, flip the bolt cutoff to the lock position, insert a loaded 40-round magazine, and pull the back of the Pedersen device to the rear to cock the piece and chamber a round. You now had a 40-shot semi-automatic rifle for close range treach fighting. The 40-round magazine of the Pedersen was inserted at a 45-degree angle and projected to the right. The modified M1903 rifles had an oval ejection port cut into the left side of the receiver wall. Rifles modified for the Pedersen device were called the M1903 Mark 1.

    The Model M1917 Enfield rifle and M1916 Mosin-Nagant rifles in .30-06 were also converted but in very small numbers. The M1916 Mosin-Nagant rifles in U.S. caliber .30-06 were used in stateside training, but the M1917 Enfield rifles in .30-06 were deployed with troops and became the most numerous American infantry arm during World War 1 (2.5 million were manufactured as opposed to 1.25 million Springfields).

    The Pedersen device was supposed to be issued to American troops for the 1919 Spring Offensive on the Western Front. However, the Armistice of 11 November 1918 put an end to those plans. Over 101,000 Pedersen "Pistol, Cal. .30, M1918" were built, but less than a 30 have survived in the hands of museums and collections. Post war, the Pedersen devices, spare parts, and ammunition were destroyed. Magazines and magazine pouches survived.

    The M1903 Mk 1 rifles were issued out as the standard infantry rifle. At some time during the 1930's, my M1903 Mk 1 was fitted with a Type C full-pistol grip stock and became a "M1903A1 Mk 1" rifle.

    I got the rifle from a friend for a very reasonable price -- because he'd lent the rifle out to a guy that had fired G.I. blanks in it and had not cleaned it properly. It started with a pristine barrel and came back rusty and pitted. I purchased it "as is" for $125 and then worked my butt off cleaning out the rust. I eventually cleaned out the rust, but I couldn't do much for the pitting the blanks had caused. Fortunately, the chamber was not pitted. I shot some .30 M2 non-corrosive Ball through the old warhorse, and I was pleasantly surprised by its accuracy. This rifle is a "keeper".

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    For what it is worth, some of the members over on Weapons Guild are working on a project to make some repro Pedersen devices.

  10. #10
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    Great stuff.
    Donate to the M1 Garands for Vets Program, help a Gulf Vet get a Garand.
    http://www.m1forvets.com/
    Molōn labe!

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