Saturday, July 21, 2007

SPAS and ‘03

So after commissioning as an Ensign I thought it a good idea to get a weapon for home defense. My bride left the decision up to me. I figured a shotgun appropriate. The coolest gun at the pawnshop was a SPAS-12 12 gauge semi-automatic. Wow! A riot gun. A street sweeper. So I got it, having NO idea how it functioned, and no place to shoot it, and no one to teach me how it worked and no manual, all before the internet. It cost $500. My wife hated it. She was much more liberal than me, and expected a wooden stock shotgun. Not something that looked black and evil and scary. So not much was done with it. When I got out of the Navy our financial situation was such that we needed the money more than we needed a SPAS so I put it up for consignment sale. Sold it for $550. I sure wish I had it now. Ah well. When I was in military school in college we did rifle drill with Springfield ‘03s. Plugged barrel and certainly no firing pins. So I was familiar with that rifle, if only in close order drill. When dating my soon to be wife, I noticed a rifle up in the joists of my future father-in-law’s basement in a ratty and disintegrating fleece lined rifle sleeve. I took it down to look at it and found it to be a Springfield ’03 in good looking shape. I bought and donated a new case to protect that handsome bolt-action rifle. I oiled its action with fine machine oil, too, just in case, but it showed no sign of rust. It had been my Father-in-Law’s Father’s gun, a worthy old engineer and machinist who I only knew from his tools and his rifle. After returning it to it’s place in the joists I forgot about it, until my Father in Law gave it to me just after I got married. I didn’t want to fire it, no one there to show me how, and I wanted it checked out before I tried. I didn’t even know what size rounds it took. I knew .30 caliber, but there are lots of .30 caliber bullets. My Father in Law thought someone had fired it in his lifetime, but wasn’t sure. I had also heard that you need to check the headspace on old rifles, whatever that was. I took it a gunsmith in the Florida panhandle to ask. He told be the receiver was late enough that it wasn’t going to explode like some earlier rifles (good to know!) and the serial number indicates it was made in 1919. He also told me .30-06 is the cartridge it takes (pronounced Thirty, Ought Six). He showed me a mark on the barrel that indicated it was re-barreled in 1942 and the Springfield armory, but the headspace was too tight (and he explained what that was). Fine. I was too poor to explore anything about it further, much less take it shooting. It stayed in the closet.

1 comment:

BobG said...

Nice gun; I got one when I was a teen, and used it for deer hunting for years. I still have it.