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???
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.