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 Post subject: 1903a3 National ordnance
PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 10:07 am 
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Benefactor
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Location: Quinlan, TX
Age: 46
I was looking at 2 National Ordnance 1903a3 and I have never heard of them . Can anyone tell me about them both have RA barrels with 43 and 44 dates on them .One has a serial #5038x do these have the heat treatment problems as the others ? both rifles have sight covers one has a sling that look pretty old . Both are in original stocks not cut up. He wants 400.00 for one and 500.00 for the other is this a good deal ? He might take one of my K 98 for trade . I can post pics in a bit when I get back from work any help will be great .


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 10:20 am 
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National Ordnance in my opinion is one to stay far away from. You will get varying views on this topic. The receivers are of questionable quality, they are cast and did not have the best quality control. I would feel safer firing a low number Springfield than a NO. National Ordnance was a private company building Garands and 1903's from parts for civilian sales,they were not a U.S defense contractor.They used receivers sourced from a variety of places. My .02 cents..............No to N.O ,I would spend a little more and get a real one. At 500.00 your getting close to the price of a nice Remington or Smith Corona. These days really nice servicable A 3's start around 600.00 or less if you get lucky.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:20 am 
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Don't waste your money. Buy a Remington, or Smith Corona.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 12:48 pm 
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Mil-Surp Psychosis
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Price is way high. Gun have a spotty reputation, and have NO collector value. I would pass, unless the price can be recouped by selling the parts . Original in decent shape can be found with a little looking for around 500.00

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 1:26 pm 
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Mil-Surp Psychosis
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I have seen photos of a blown up National Ordnance receiver.
Comments about this incident suggest the receivers were cast steel and made in Yugoslavia.
I wouldn't touch one with a ten foot pole after reading numerous condemnations of these rifles.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 4:06 pm 
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Watch www.gunrunnerauctions.com they usually have some '03's and '03A3's.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 4:44 pm 
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Thanks guys , I told the guy I was going to pass and he wanted to show me a report on test that where done on the strength of the receivers . I was still not interested, this is the second trade this week that guys from this forum have helped me make the right choice .


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 10:51 pm 
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I'm glad you backed out of that deal. $500.00 is way too steep for what it is.

Just in case you are interested: In the past I have done some research on Nat'l Ordnance.

In the late 60's an outfit located in California called Golden State Arms built 03A3's on cast recievers made in Yugoslavia with surplus 03-03A3 parts. Fit finish and quality of the recievers were questionable. Very few of these rifles were completed/sold before production was picked up by Nat'l Ordnance and sold under their name. Under the Nat'l Ordnance brand the quality of the cast reciever was improved somewhat tho they were still cast in Yogoslavia and possibly in the Philippines. The test the seller wanted to show you was conducted by the H.P. White Lab, where a few Nat'l Ord recievers were tested and proved safe. Still, considering their checkered past you were correct not to purchase the rifle.


Regards,



Bob


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:31 am 
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I wouldn't pay more than $300 for one...
That said, I got one from a trade deal here on our forum. I have shot over 200 - 300 rounds, and it shoots very well and is reliable. The only fault I find is the lack of a clip guide.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 5:18 am 
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Mil-Surp Psychosis
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Quote:
The test the seller wanted to show you was conducted by the H.P. White Lab, where a few Nat'l Ord recievers were tested and proved safe. Still, considering their checkered past you were correct not to purchase the rifle.


Regards,



Bob



A test on a few receivers doesn't trump numerous known cases of the rifle failing under normal shooting conditions.
There were many good reasons why drop forged receivers were used for every major military bolt action.

In Investment castings the larger the piece the greater the likelyhood of internal flaws. There might 500 receivers in a row that turn out perfectly, while the next five thousand may be crapola, with no outward signs to reveal the bad ones.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:16 am 
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Location: Out along Highway 61 in Calif.
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I got my National Ordnance for $200 about six or seven years ago. It's from El Monte and is from 1970. I've shot perhaps 500-600 rounds through it with no problems.

I've been watching this forum for notices about NO 03A3's. There are several grades of NO receivers, yes, from what I've read, all cast. However, of all the batches, the later ones from El Monte apparently were made with better grade investment casting material. I must say I've had no problems at all with mine. It has a two groove barrel from 1944 and looks almost new. It shoots very well.

After every range trip, I use a dental mirror to look inside. So far, no troubles.

I think there is room for a book about NO 03A3's. Does anyone know whether such a book exists?

I'd like to read more about NO 03A3's. I've found some on the web. Can anyone point to useful, verified information on these?

Thanks in advance.

This is mine in a Boyd's stock (got it naked...) with my Ruger GP100 (with open cylinder) during a post range cleaning session.

Image

CDFingers

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 6:22 am 
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I think only the stories regarding Low Number M1903s have more misinformation and pure BS than the stories about National Ordnance Receivers.

Rimer Casting of Waterville, OH, made all the Nat.Ord. M1903A3s receivers. They were not made in Yugoslavia or Spain or in some ones sand box. They were made right here in the US by a reputable casting company who, last I heard was still in business making castings for the US Military.
This is from a research paper by James Mock and Lee Emerson, from a post of about two years ago, where the poster recounts that his dad, a employee of Rimer had supplied the receiver from his DCM M1903A3 as the master for the mold to make M1903A3 castings and some of my contacts with a few of the principles of National Ordnance and Golden State Arms

The castings from Rimer were good, what happen to them after that is the real question.

There are receivers like the one CDFingers has that show no problems and then some that show signs of being soft. Almost all have machining problems to one degree or another. A few examples are: trigger guard screw Holes, that are not at a right angle to the bottom of the receiver and the barrel could tighten up at almost any point. Those of you who buy a Nat Ord for the parts should remember that. Also some sears needed alteration so the shooter would be able to engage the safety when the bolt was in a closed position. Note: I always altered the sear not the cocking piece, (Pin, firing assy.) The most interesting machining problems were the receivers that had the center line of the barrels threads about five to six degrees off of the center line of the receiver. Barrel threads not fully cut. I do have a tap for the 03 barrel threads, and that came in very handy.

According to Fuller “US States Martial & Collectors Arms”, the composition of the steel used in Nat Ord A3 receivers changed after the first 2,500 receivers. Production started in 65, ended in 70, for a total of 22,500.

I assembled between one and two hundred, M1903A3s on National Ordnance Receivers. This was for a business that sold them to small retail outlets such as ’Western Auto’ and various sporting good dealers mostly in AZ. I checked the headspace before I test fired them (5 rds) and after. The receivers I obtained appeared to be OK, of course I did pick these A3 receivers up from the National Ordnance ‘factory’ on Alpaca St. in S. El Monte, CA, maybe that had something to do with it.

SPECULATION on my part; I think the quality of the heat treatment (Harding) of the receiver is in question. I do not know if it ranged from individual receiver to batches or groups (two groups of Nat Ord as far as I know). rember this is speculation.

I kept (gifts) two of those rifles built on Nat Ord A3 receivers for several years and fired both often, two/three thousand rounds each and I never found a significant increase in headspace in either one, when I traded them off.

If I could buy a A3 built on a Nat Ord receiver for about $200 (maybe $300, maybe) I would buy it, I would first check to see if it functioned OK, then head space and feel of bolt while it was being closed, before I handed over any money. Then I would check headspace about every twenty rounds for a hundred, then about every 500 rds. If OK,, good buy, if headspace keeps increasing,, see what parts I can salvage and see if I could do some hardness test on the receiver.

Definition of the term “blow up a rifle” This is when the receiver FAILS, comes apart in various pieces also the bolt comes out of the receiver, possibly in parts. For a rifle or any firearm to ’Blow Up’ the receiver must fail. Fire arm is destroyed. Very dangerous and also thank goodness,, VERY vary rare.

Now a far more common,, sometime spectacular event, but less dangerous is when a cartridge head fails, releasing the propellant gases into the receiver, this usually causes wood, magazine parts, scopes and sometime bolt handles to fly about, injuries to the shooter are usually mild, you do wear your shooting glasses, right?? And when all the dust and parts have settled, the receiver itself is often found to be OK. This happens to all types and makes of firearms, and will continue to do so as long as there are mistakes by the ammo loading companies and reloaders.

I have never seen or heard of the receiver of an National Ordnance M1903A3 blown up. I have seen them after the results of a rupture case head in which stock, magazine and maybe scope are all in serious disarray BUT the receiver itself did not fail and the bolt is still in the receiver. Now that is better than when a Low Number lets go, right singleshotcajun???

Bob322
I knew a few of the principles with National Ordnance and Golden State Arms and from what I heard all commercial M1903A3 castings came from Rimer, thru Nat Ord. I do not know if Golden State did their own machining or not,, they did have the capacities. Golden State marked them ’Santa Fe Arms’ and there were 2500 made as per Fuller. Golden State went out of business Oct of 1966.

If you do not own at least one headspace gage, you should not shoot a Nat Ord or Santa Fe marked M1903A3 receiver.

One thing I can say about putting together those rifles on Nat Ord A3 receivers, they were a great teaching tool.

And as much interest these receivers generate, someone should start collecting them.

45B20


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 8:21 am 
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Mil-Surp Psychosis
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I appreciate your reply. Now I'll mail that company and see if there is any information I can buy from them. Their site has such a feature. Thank you again.

CDFingers

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 8:35 am 
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45B20 wrote:

I have never seen or heard of the receiver of an National Ordnance M1903A3 blown up. I have seen them after the results of a rupture case head in which stock, magazine and maybe scope are all in serious disarray BUT the receiver itself did not fail and the bolt is still in the receiver. Now that is better than when a Low Number lets go, right singleshotcajun???



45B20

Very informative post. Sometimes I type too fast. I would be more comfortable firing a low number Springfield however I have no desire to fire a low number Springfield or a National ord,Federal ord , Golden state or Sante Fe rifle. There was a time in my life when I would fire questionable firearms, ya I was that guy. I figure any luck allotted to me in that regard has already been depleted.

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We are told NOT TO judge Islam by the actions of a few lunatics. However we are encouraged TO judge ALL Gun Owners by the actions of a few lunatics. Funny how that works.
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SHALOM Y'ALL In God we trust, Romans 8:28


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 12:44 pm 
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Mil-Surp Psychosis
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From the number of wrecked NO cast receiver rifles I've found posts about, compared to the number of these rifles made the NO is a good deal more likely to fail than a Low Number Springfield single heat treat receiver.

It may not fail in as spectacular a manner, but it doesn't require a bolt leaving the receiver for serious injury to result.
I'd tried to explain that to Enfield collectors when they say that the bolt head shattering or being sheared off in a SMLE or No.4 is somehow not a dangerous situation. More bystanders, other troops on a firing line, and range officers have been injured or killed by blown bolt heads than the shooters themselves. What can injure or kill a bystander is just as deadly as something that injures the shooter directly, at least with modern often crowded ranges and shooting events.
The safety lug on the Springfield bolt would prevent the bolt from leaving its track in almost any blow up.


I'll see if I can find photos I once saw of an NO receiver twisted and broken in half with pieces missing.

I have found out the hard way that castings are not a proper substitute for drop forged parts. That goes for many types of tools as well as low cost gun frames.

Don't know if the Castings were actually done in the US or Yugoslavia, but in the late sixties and early seventies the company I worked for at the time imported investment cast alloy chair and table legs from Yugoslavia because they were cheaper than those from an American supplier. The only real problem we had with those was a hole had been drilled metric and was too tight for the shank of a glide we had to hammer into the foot of each leg. After many broken glides and ruined legs I finall convinced the plant manager to add a man to each line to drill the holes out properly before attempting to insert the glides.

Large companies often subcontract or farm out work to smaller companies, and establishing quality control on castings is often by guess and by golly.

PS
Remember that all the low number Springfields that blew up had passed a 75,000 CUP proof test before being issued.


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