Bill Ricca's 03A3..Repro or US GI?

William J. Ricca Surplus Sales

Government Surplus 1971-2018

All rights reserved, Bill Ricca
Reprinted here by The Carbine Collectors Club
with Bill's written permission

















03A3..Repro or US GI?

The days of mountains of original parts are over. Every band, screw, piece of wood, and even trigger guards are being reproduced in third world countries. This includes both the 03 and A3.

Here is a comparison of a US GI versus a new made 03A3 Trigger Guard included in a parts kit from SARCO.


The repro is on top. Notice the reinforcing ribs (follower guides as some call them). The US GI ribs extend the entire height whereas the repro do not. The repro has a dull blackish blue finish, the GI has slightly more shine. The repro was produced to resemble the Remington version. The Smith Corona trigger guards have different characteristics.


The US GI is on the left. The repro is on the right. Notice the screw well support is too short on the repro. It will not extend far enough to reach the receiver.


Again the US GI is on the left. The repro is on the right. The repro is characterized by very cheap metal work. Unlike the one shown, (a Remington), the repro's folds are not squared on the corners. They are rounded, like the cheap 30 round reproduction Carbine magazines on the market. The US GI has a very tightly closed seam. The repro has a gap at the seam. This is a result of improper bending of the metal. It also has incorrectly shaped metal at the bottom which sticks out to the rear.


The US GI is on top. Notice the rounded follower spring well on the repro. The repro uses the same straight screw well as the Remington version of the US GI.


Another item that is being reproduced by SARCO is the 03A3 stacking swivel assembly. The one on the right is a Remington Arms from WWII. The one on the left is the repro. Notice the repro's screw is not peened on the end like original military production. The purpose of the peening was to prevent the total removal of the screw, which often will damage the thread of the screw and/or band. The screw on the repro can be removed from the band. Originals can not. The repro has an original swivel attached, marked RS. I have a record of swivels being produced during WWII, but not complete bands with RS markings. On this assembly the marked part (swivel) is install backwards, but overseas it is a 50/50 chance that it will be install correctly. I expect that in the future when SARCO runs out of RS marked swivels, an unmarked swivel will be produced.


The front band (bayonet lug) is also being reproduced by SARCO. From left to right, Repro, Remington Arms, Smith Corona. Notice the repro does not align with the others. It's outside diameter slightly larger than the others. The two GI bands align perfectly due to interchangeability gages used during production.


On the left is the repro, on the right is a Smith Corona. All US GI front bands have a slight bevel on the front of the stud (bayonet lug). Notice the absence of the bevel on the repro. The bevel is usually slightly longer on the Smith Corona than the Remington. Notice the folded metal on the stud of the Smith Corona, but a solid cast stud on the repro. The blued finish of the repro is pretty good, but it does not have the same luster as the Remington.


An inspection of the stud on the bottom of the reproduction front band will reveal the casting gate used during production. Unlike original US GI, which were stampings, the reproduction is a solid casting. The casting marks can be seen on the bottom of the stud.


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