The WWI and WWII Springfield 1903 was the official standard rifle for the United States for more than 33 years and is considered one of the top rifles of all time.  The Rifle was first designated as the “US Magazine Rifle, Model of 1903”.  This first model was designed after the German-Mauser and President Theodore Roosevelt was actively involved in the design.


Step back in time as you step into the Firearms and Ordnance Gallery at the Armed Forces History Museum. An extensive collection of weapons from around the world are housed throughout this extensive gallery including a 1903 Springfield Rifle.


Design of the 1903 Springfield

The rifle had five-round stripper clips and a blade bayonet, which was personally chosen by the President.  The rifle weighed less than 9 lbs., had a 24-inch barrel and an overall length of 45 inches.  After the initial .30-03 cartridge was found to be underpowered, a .30-06 cartridge replaced it.  This new cartridge would eventually be known as one of the nation’s greatest rifle cartridges of the 20th Century.  The Springfield ’03 became the standard shoulder arm of the US Army in June of 1903.  The rifle first saw combat during WWI with the 20th Infantry Regiment in March of 1906.  The Springfield played a vital role throughout the war, not only for the US Army, but the US Marine Corps as well.


Service Beyond WWI

The service of the Springfield 1903 extended beyond World War I.  A shortage of the M-1 rifles at the beginning of WWII, the 1903 once again became the primary rifle for the units defending the Philippines and the US Marine Corps in 1942 when they landed on Guadalcanal.   In 1936, the M-1 Garand Rifle began replacing the Springfield 1903 and by July of 1947, the Springfield was considered obsolete.


Statistics for the M1903 Springfield

  • Bolt-action Rifle
  • In service from 1903 to 1974
  • Rate of Fire:  15 rounds per minute
  • Muzzle Velocity:  2,800 feet per second
  • Operational Range:  656 yards
  • Maximum Range:  Up to 2,500 yards


A number of variants evolved throughout its production lifetime; and though no longer in active service, the M1903 is still used by a number of military drill teams and color guards – including the US Army Drill Team.  JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) often use the M1903 for weapons handling instructions and military drill procedures.  From its beginnings in WWI to its final days in WWII, over 3 million Springfield 19A03 rifles were manufactured.


5 Responses to WWI and WWII Springfield 1903 Rifle

  1. Bethany says:

    I looking for information on the French (1913) St Elienne MLE M.16. I am having a hard time with finding history fact about this gun. If you have any information will you please contact me and share.. my email is

    • alon2392 says:

      I have forwarded your question to our historian and will let you know when I hear from him. I have also sent an email to you, check your SPAM folder if you haven’t received it.

    • alon2392 says:

      Here is some information provided by our historian. I hope this is helpful. Thank you for visiting our web-site. I have forwarded this reply to your email, check your SPAM box if you did not receive it.

      St. Etienne is a city in eastern central France, it was founded 900 years ago. They may have manufactured the rifle there. Fire arms manufacture in Europe and here in the US put the name of the city it was manufactured on the weapon. The MLE m16 was a bolt action 8mm lebel caliber rifle, with a 5 round magazine. It came about at the end of the 1930’s. It was used by the French marksman and was retired after WWII. Some French law enforcement units used them till the 1980’s.

  2. Jean Davis says:

    I am researching for a writing project that requires infomation about cleaning, handling,loading and firing an
    M1903 Springfield. What knowledge is required about this rifle and its use toward obtaining a marksmanship medal?
    An info is greatly appreciated.

    • alon2392 says:

      Hi Jean:

      Thank you for visiting our website. I would suggest you do an internet search using as key phrases for the information you are seeking. You may need to change the verbiage around some if your initial search does not produce the desired results. Good luck!

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