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Remington Arms Auction, Ilion, New York

It's amazing that Remington has lasted as long as it has. It has a long history of incompetent management. It went bankrupt for the first time in 1888 and was bought by Oliver Winchester and Marcellus Hartley. Hartley became a very wealthy man selling Remington products while Remington failed. Winchester just wanted the Whitney lever action rifle patents so they could take it off the market...once he had them he sold the rest of the company to Hartley who also owned Union Metallic Cartridge. Hartley's grandson, Marcellus Hartley Dodge, merged the two companies into Remington-UMC. There was another bankruptcy in the 1960s as well.

Joe, the Remington 1903's were manufactured on machines originally set up at the Rock Island Arsenal during WWI. They were mothballed at the end of the war, often with the fixtures still attached. At the beginning of WWII it was clear that we could not manufacture the M1 Garand fast enough to arm the projected army so two contracts were let to restart 1903 production. One went to Smith Corona who had been making typewriters. Because their plant was more modern it had no overhead belts so new machines were purchased that didn't need them. The Remington plant still had its overhead belts so they got the Rock Island machines because they could be set up and running much faster there.

A word of caution. All of the company histories were paid for by the company and, in many cases, are extremely unreliable. The worst, by Alden Hatch, was published in the 1950s. He was a hack novelist and friend of Marcellus Dodge but there was another published in 1912 when Remington-UMC was created, one by Harold Peterson in the late 1960s and a more recent one as well. There has never been an objective history of the company. Hatch simply made things up...Peterson avoided the issue by simply not mentioning things that might be embarrassing to the company...though he may not have known much about it. He was curator of the National Park Service and had no personal interest in late 19th century arms. I haven't read the latest but all of these repeat the same time worn myths. Even their claim to be "America's Oldest Gunmaker" is specious. They didn't start actually making guns until the 1840s with a contract for the Jenks Navy Rifle. Prior to that they made parts, mostly gun barrels and are credited with introducing steel barrels to the American market. (They bought the steel in England.) Both Colt and S&W are older actual gunmakers.
 
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99Panhard:

Thank you for shedding some light on how the 1903A3's came to be made by Remington. I knew from the serial number on the receiver, that this was built for WWII. What puzzled me a bit was why the M 1903 A3 (bolt action, known as the "Springfield") was still being made for WWII when the M-1 (Garand, semi automatic action) was the service rifle brought into use sometime between WWI & WWII. The only other explanation I could come up with was that both rifles use the .30-06 round.

I have my late father's qualification record book from when he was in US Army basic training for WWII. Dad qualified with the M1 Garand, M 1903 A3, and the M 1911 (.45 semi auto pistol). Initially, I figured there were plenty of M 1903 A3's still in US Military inventory, so soldiers had to qualify with them. Then, I got hold of the Springfield action (made by Remington) back in 1971 or thereabouts. At the time, I figured it was WWI era. Once the internet came along, it was a simple matter to investigate the serial number. That is when I learned the 03A3 (or at least the receiver, about all I used to build my rifle) had been built for WWII. It's nice to have something made in the old Ilion, NY plant.

In another episode, a group of us had bought the contents of a deceased toolmaker's shop. This was in a garage attached to his house. At the end of the load-out (we filled a Ryder box truck with lift gate), the widow asked if anyone was interested in her late husband's guns. I spoke first. The widow brought out three rifles: a .22, a 30 caliber bolt action (Savage, if I remember right, possibly chambered for .30-30), and an M1 Garand. I latched onto the Garand. The widow told me to make her an offer as she had no idea of its worth. Neither did I. I asked if I could take the Garand with me and get an idea of price by showing it to gun dealers. She was OK with that. I found that the local gun dealers (including Numrich Arms) were trying to tell me the M1 Garand was not worh a whole lot. This is where it gets interesting: every part of that Garand was stamped "SA". Meaning it had been made in Springfield Arsenal. It was date in August of 1941, prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. The bore in that Garand was in very good condition and parts showed little, if any, wear. The stock had no dings or scratches. I gave the widow 500 bucks, cash, for that Garand. I gave that Garand to my bro, Ron (whom Jim Rozen knew from IBM). Ron carried an M1 Garand and qualified with it at Parris Island, USMC boot camp prior to being deployed to Vietnam. Ron loves that M1 Garand. He showed it to a gun dealer (maybe in COld Spring, NY or nearby). That dealer offered Ron substantial money for that Garand. Ron would not sell it. ROn retired from IBM and he and his wife moved back to the UP of Michigan, where ROn was born and raised.

Ron served 10 years in the USMC, two tours in Vietnam. He was a scout-sniper. His sniper rifle was a Remington 700 bolt action. His other job was being a tunnel rat since he is likely one of the smallest Marines. The 700 Remington was no 'off the rack' sporting rifle. I would imagine Remington built up the 700 series sniper rifles in their custom shop (which the Ilion plant did have). Once the USMC got those rifles, their own armorers did further accurizing work on them.

Your mention of Smith Corona brings back a memory from my boyhood. There was an entity called the "DCM", or "Department of Civilian Marksmanship". The DCM setup small bore ranges and had programs so youth as young as 12 could learn safe handling and develop target shooting skills. In Brooklyn, NY, there was a huge old castle of an armory at the corner of Atlantic & Bedford Avenues. It was in the basement of this armory that (3) 50 foot indoor ranges were built. Caswell target carriers, steel plate bullet trap running full width/height of the downrange area. Rifles furnished were US Government property, .22 target rifles. There was the Remington 513T, and there were a number of .22 target rifles built by Smith Corona. We shot .22 long rifle rounds, and it cost us kids a penny per shot. We fired the courses of fire for NRA small bore awards. The other things the DCM was involved with were the "National Matches", shooting competitions held at Camp Perry in Ohio; and, the occasional sales of surplus US military rifles. At the time, the deal was to get on a list and hopefully get an M1 Garand (or maybe it was the M1 Carbine) for about 12 or 14 bucks. The kicker was you had to be either 18 or 21 (I forget which age it was). Loads of kids came to the DCM program, kids from 12 to about 18, from all economic strata. I took a course there and got my "Safe Hunter" in 1962, in an armory in Brooklyn, NY of all places. I wonder with the anti-gun hysteria whether the DCM exists anymore. I know the old armory was sold to a civilian buyer, so doubt the ranges in the basement there are used. It was a great organization and program for us kids, but times (where did 60 + years go ?!) were quite different.
 
The first M1903's made by Remington & Smith Corona were identical to the WWI version. The A3 variation came a little later and was a simplified version, dispensing with the fairly elaborate windage adjustable rear sight as well as some other minor changes. It also used a slightly different stock with a semi-pistol grip. The 03 served throughout WWII and, equipped with a Warner Swazey scope, was particularly favored by snipers. About 20 years ago I had an interesting conversation with a cousin of my father's who landed in Normandy and had been a sniper in France. There was also a sniper version of the Garand but apparently wasn't as popular with the best marksmen. The 03 also saw extensive service with the Navy where small arms were generally considered secondary.

During the war the Signal Corps photographers were not encouraged to photograph 03 armed soldiers so we get a distorted view of it's use by looking at period photos. The same thing occurred in WWI where most American troops were actually armed with the M1917 Enfield (a modified version of the British P14 chambered for 30-06 rather than .303) but the official photographs almost never show it.

A few years ago the younger brother of my best friend in HS showed me his Garand...it was a Springfield Armory rifle, serial number 131! Unfortunately it had belonged to a competition shooter who had replaced just about everything except the receiver. Still, it had been one of the first ones made, well before the start of WWII for us.

Yes, the DCM still exists. It still sells surplus US military rifles and M1911 pistols through approved shooting organizations. Most of those now available come from stocks loaned to WWII or post-war allies. There current big cache has come from Korea.
 
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The Government must have dumped a lot weapons in the early 60's.Seems like everyone in central Florida had an M1 carbine , although I don't remember any Garands though. There were quite a few old 45/70's around, the hog hunters liked them. My brother had some Remington pumps ,don't remember the model, but one was a 22 and the other was a 35 cal I think it was called a Brinks guard gun. A casual glance and they looked identical. One day we were out shooting at some clay pits and one of the girls was shooting the 22. When she ran out of ammo she asked bro to reload for her. When she came back he handed her the 35. She said it feels a lot heavier ," that's cause it has a full load of bulllits dummy". I heard her make one shot and the she came back and said I don't want to shoot any more.
I don't think he was trying to be mean just stupid and funny. A small framed person not prepaired for the recoil could be hurt or at least sore for awhile. Good thing she didn't have one of those 45/70's to try.
 
ratbldr427:

Your story about the girl and the .35 caliber rifle brings back another memory. The year was maybe 1976, and I was working for Bechtel, assigned to a powerplant construction project in Marquette, Michigan (in the "UP"). I was young and single, and this one fall Sunday, a couple of my buddies suggested we go shooting. Shooting took place in either a gravel pit, or at a gravel bank the police used as a range. We opted for the gravel bank/police range. Three of us got in my car, high powered rifles, revolvers, semi auto pistols... plenty of hot reload ammo. As we drove to the range, one of the guys spotted an older relative outside. We pulled over so he could say hi to his relative. The relative saw the guns and ammo and immediately asked if he could join us. He went into his house and came out with a 'hogleg' (single action revolver) .44 magnum. We arrived at the range and we piled out of the car. The range consisted of a wooden plank bridge over a small brook. A gravel bank, overgrown with brush was upstream. There were splintered wood target stands in front of the brushy gravel bank. The bridge and road into it were littered with spent brass. There were bullet-holed beer cans, busted bottles and weathered paper targets up at the target stand area. Every road sign for a mile before the turnoff to the range was bullet-holed. Marquette, Michigan is home to Northern Michigan University, a large campus with a lot of students from 'down below' (the lower part of Michigan, below the mackinac Bridge). These students come from cities like Detroit, and its suburbs and similar places. My reasons for going into this detail will become obvious shortly.

We did what a lot of people, including the police did at the range; toss empty beer cans into the brook as far upstream towards the target stands as we could throw them. Then, we opened fire, trying to stop the cans from drifting downstream towards us, and trying to make the cans really dance in the water. We were having a fine time. I was shooting a .357 magnum revolver. Ron (whom I mentioned in earlier posts on this thread) was shooting a .41 magnum revolver. His old relative had his .44 magnum. Another guy had a Walther .380. We emptied our guns at the beer cans. When the shooting stopped, we were startled to hear a girl screaming and cursing at us. She and the boy she was with came out from behind the target stands, pulling on their clothes. The boy said nothing. The girl was cursing and hollering at us for shooting and for having guns with us. The girl and her boyfriend were obviously college kids from "down below'. Only someone who was from a city environment would fail to realize they had picked the local shooting range to do their lovemaking. Only a totally nuts college kid would curse out four armed local men. I was shaken by how close we'd come to accidentally shooting those kids. The other guys thought it was downright funny. The girl was hysterical, crying, snot running, cursing and plainly out of control with no sign of simmering down or leaving the shooting range to people who wanted to use it for its intended purpose. The older relative was laughing hard. The guy with the .380 Walther blew his breath across the upturned muzzle and drawled: "Hey ya dumb bitch.... whyn't ya do yer screwing in a bedroom... this is a shooting range don't ya know ?" The kids finally came to their senses and left. We burned up a lot of ammo, shooting handgun s and high powered rifles. We passed many Sunday afternoons shooting at the gravel pit or that range. We tried out hot reloads and usxualy went to using paper targets to see how close a group we could shoot.

Another 'test' of how powerful a round was was done on road sign posts. These posts are made from re-rolled railroad rail steel. This steel is hardenable, fairly high carbon, and has silicon and manganese in it. Road sign posts are made of this better grade of steel to enable them to be driven into hardpan soil and to better resist things like snow banked up against them or some impacts. These posts are so durable that 'breakaway' mountings are used on some of them. If a car strikes one of those posts, it would otherwise bend and maybe impale the car. Back in the times I write of, these posts had no breakaway connections. We'd fire at the web of one of those posts to see if the round would punch thru it. My .308 Norma Magnum rifle rounds punched thru, as did a .44 magnum round, but full jacketed ,357 hot reloads just put a very slight dent into the post's web. Our other 'test specimen' was abandoned cars at the gravel pit. It is nearly 50 years since those days of shooting at gravel pits. I have not reloaded ammo in easily 33 years. Recently, I got the urge to reload .45 ACP ammo. Problem is getting primers. Seems actually cheaper to buy .45 ACP hardball ammo in bulk than to reload. If I wan t to target shoot, I walk into the woods beside our house and put up my half silhoutte targets. Rough sawn scrap lumber makes the target stands. A natural upslope in the land is the backstop. To my knowledge, no one has shown up to make love in our woods.
 
Far as I know ,the Du Ponts got controll of Remington UMC during WW1........thats WW1 1914-1918...........none of the three makers of P14/M17 rifles made any profit .......Winchester estimated the loss on all WW1 production as $8million,and Remington was doubly exposed ,having built new factories at Ilion and Eddystone.......The P14 contract was cancelled less than one year after first production,with a total of some 1,200,000 rifles over three makers .
 
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Another product of Remington was the Pedersen device. Small modifications to the M1903 rifle allowed Pedersen's invention to temporarily replace the standard bolt and then shoot a 40 round magazine of pistol-type rounds in semi-automatic mode for close action situations. They were invented right at the end of WWI and 65,000 were made, but never saw combat. The war ended and the contract was cancelled and the completed stock was stored. The modified M1903 rifles were called M1903 Mark One. The rifles were saved for use with the standard bolt, but the Pedersen devices and ammo were destroyed. The old guy that taught me muzzleloading in 1954 had one of the rifles and the extremely rare Pedersen device that somehow was saved from destruction. When I finally bought a M1903 rifle for myself a few years later, it turned out to be one of the 101,775 Mark Ones that were made, easily identifiable by a short ejection port on the left side of the receiver.


I spent four years of high school and 5 years of engineering school shooting DCM .22LR at 50 cents a box. The schools also had some DCM .22 rifles for those who did not own their own. My high school had both a boys and a girls rifle club that shot in the basement range on different afternoons after school. We had a couple of teachers who were Korea vets to mind us. The last five years included an annual college M1 match at Camp Perry in April. It is cold at night there that time of year. DCM loaned the M1 rifles to the university and we did not have to pay for the ammo.

Larry

1958 HS yearbook:
1958 rifle club exp.JPG
 
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So if ya find a 03 with a dovetail for the sights does that automatically make it a 03-A3 .
Back in the early 80's when I was looking for a Springfield there was the warning about the early ones not being safe . Someone told me if I see one with that dovetail that it makes a 03-A3 . I did manage to find a very nice sporter that who ever did it knew what he was doing . @ 1955 my mom won a check pool & wanted to buy my dad a new rifle , so off to Stanford Sporting goods down by yep ya guessed it Stanford collage . She walks in & instantly becomes overwhelmed , so a guy comes up to help her & ask what he can do for her , so she says she wants to buy her husband a rifle , the guy ask what kind & she says I think he had a Springfield in Korea ? SO the guy ask he what branch & rank & she tells hem Marines , & that he was a Sergeant . . SO he went & picked out a real clean 03A3 for her . When their ringing her up the guy puts a bayonet on the counter & says this is on us . I still have that rifle , my dad put one of the first variable scopes that Weaver made . Maybe a 3-4 scope , modified the bolt to clear the scope & also put a real nice Williams adjustable sight . It's still a real nice rifle , but it's heavier that my 03-A3 sporter .
animal
 
The "unsafe" early 03's is something of a shibboleth. There were some problems during WWI and after the war there was an official investigation that included extensive testing. It was found that the cracked or blown receivers were attributable to some improperly loaded war-time ammunition. If I remember correctly, it all came from the same manufacturer, one that had been rushed into production because Frankford arsenal could not meet the demand. The heat treating on the receivers was improved in any case but unless you are firing some left-over ammo from WWI, by that manufacturer (I forget the name and they are long gone), there is virtually no chance of one failing. Of course, people have hand loaded 30-06 to inappropriate pressures but that is true of practically every caliber and rifle.

I had a very low number '03 (made in 1914) that I shot regularly with modern factory ammo loaded to not exceed the specified pressure.
 
Another product of Remington was the Pedersen device. Small modifications to the M1903 rifle allowed Pedersen's invention to temporarily replace the standard bolt and then shoot a 40 round magazine of pistol-type rounds in semi-automatic mode for close action situations. They were invented right at the end of WWI and 65,000 were made, but never saw combat. The war ended and the contract was cancelled and the completed stock was stored. The modified M1903 rifles were called M1903 Mark One. The rifles were saved for use with the standard bolt, but the Pedersen devices and ammo were destroyed. The old guy that taught me muzzleloading in 1954 had one of the rifles and the extremely rare Pedersen device that somehow was saved from destruction. When I finally bought a M1903 rifle for myself a few years later, it turned out to be one of the 101,775 Mark Ones that were made, easily identifiable by a short ejection port on the left side of the receiver.


I spent four years of high school and 5 years of engineering school shooting DCM .22LR at 50 cents a box. The schools also had some DCM .22 rifles for those who did not own their own. My high school had both a boys and a girls rifle club that shot in the basement range on different afternoons after school. We had a couple of teachers who were Korea vets to mind us. The last five years included an annual college M1 match at Camp Perry in April. It is cold at night there that time of year. DCM loaned the M1 rifles to the university and we did not have to pay for the ammo.

Larry

1958 HS yearbook:
View attachment 434420
Larry....GREAT pics!
RE; "Pederson Device" In at auction in 2021 brought $37K
 
Another famous company made M1 carbines - some Large Blue Company that I work for right now.....
In Poughkeepsie - along with BAR and 20 mm cannon according to the old timer I shared an office with when I hired in down there in 1974.

Remington Rand (as well as several other companies) in Syracuse made a lot of M1911A1 at their typewriter plant during the war - more than once during my time in the Army I had one of those as my issued weapon. The one I own now is also by them - appropriate in my mind.

Older weapons were used during training up through the 60s. I carried and qualified with an M1 and M14 prior to the M16 in 68 - 70 time period.
 








 
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