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.