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A Documented USMC M1903A1 Rifle

 Collectors have often speculated on the sorts of features which are likely to indicate a rifle used by the U.S. Marine Corps as a service rifle.  There are a number of documented and authentic Marine Corps sniper rifles with Unertl 8x scopes, generally known as the M1941 sniper rifle.  Of course there is probably an even larger number of fakes, so collectors should be wary.  The Springfield Research Newsletter "U.S. Martial Arms Collector" number 94 (October 2000) has a very thorough review of the sniper rifles by Larry Reynolds, and we highly recommend that anyone interested in the subject read it carefully (as well as any follow up information in subsequent issues.)   However, service grade rifles have not been studied and reported. 

We recently obtained a rifle sold to a Marine 6 June 1955, from the purchaser's son. 

 The original sales document was rolled up in the butt trap, wrinkled and torn some, but with all important information very legible. 

This rifle (and presumably all others being sold at the time by the Marine Corps) was priced at $24.27 plus 3% overhead charge for a total of $25.00. While that seems dirt cheap today, remember that military pay was not generous and many enlisted men made far less than $100 per month, and even junior officers started off at under $200 per month. 

 The rifle is definitely a M1903A1 with pistol grip stock, but the paperwork shows M1903.  It has been reported (but I forget the source) that the Marine Corps was reluctant to adopt the M1903A1 due to a difference in cost (compared to the M1903) which would complicate accounting matters.  Perhaps they just ignored the Army's nomenclature and regarded all M1903 rifles as such, regardless of stock type.