Resurrection: Restoring an 03-A3 Drill Rifle to a Shooter

Author: ©2011 No4Mk1T


Picked up a 03-A3 Smith-Corona Drill Rifle at a gunshow a few weeks back. This one was not welded on the magazine cut off and this was why I bought it.
A quick examination revealed what other parts were needed, and they were picked up at the same show.
I called my smith a few days later about restoring it to shooting condition, and he mentioned that he had a brand new Smith-Corona barrel.
The barreled action was taken over and the old barrel removed. The barrel weld was very small and mostly on the barrel. No discoloration from the welding was evident on the receiver.
That Saturday, I re-parkerized the receiver and other small parts that were to be re-used. Saturday afternoon, we were back at the smith’s for new barrel installation.
Ordered a new stock from CMP. After a week and a half, it arrived. Got it fitted and finished with linseed oil.
Took it to the range today. Like a dummy, I forgot to bring a small screwdriver to center up the rear sight base. Consequently, I only shot 20 rounds to see how it grouped until I can center up the sight base. This project progressed rather rapidly compared to other gun projects that usually take months. This one was 3 weeks from gunshow purchase to finished.

Here’s a few pics of the project.


After removing old barrel. New barrel pictured. Note area of weld on receiver is not discolored.

Re-parked and ready to go back together.

Further evidence of no temper change. New parkerizing is uniform in color.

When assembled, grinder damage is not evident.

New stock as received form CMP. Stained, but not finished with linseed oil.

First coat of linseed oil. Lay it on heavy. Stock will soak it up like a sponge.

24 hours later, the oil is absorbed. Apply second coat of oil lighter than first. You want to feed the stock all it will take, but no more.

Finished Stock

Finished Rifle

How it shoots. 100yds.

USMC sight installed. Test firing shows the M1 handload with the 155 SMK to print in the 10 ring of the SR target.

The USMC front sight is 1/10″ wide and gives old eyes a better sight picture than the issue blade

For 1903 rifles, the rear slide is also replaced with one with a 1/10″ apeture to match the wider front sight.


Leave a Reply