Blasts From the Past: Nick’s Sporterized Springfield
Some little-known history about a an Army buy-back program for rifles
We have had sporterized Springfields on Blasts from the Past before (I think; I know we had [several (one here; another here) in Gunfight Fridays over the years), and here is another one. It comes with a good family connection and an interesting historical story, too.
The 1903 Springfield needs no introduction. Over 3,000,000 were made between 1903 and 1949. It served in WWs I and II, Korea, and Vietnam, and many, like this rifle, were converted for sporting use. What is less well known—or at least, I didn’t know it—was that some were reconverted back from sporting to military configurations as part of a government buy-back program.
Nick’s ’03 Springfield
I don’t know a whole lot about the actual rifle in the pictures. My grandpa, William Striggow, was given this gun by his uncle, Glenn Striggow, who was a gunsmith in Michigan. Glenn was contracted by the U.S. government to inspect buy-back guns. This particular rifle was Glenn’s personal hunting rifle that he acquired during the buy-back program.
What I was told is that Glenn refurbished this particular Springfield .30/06 to use as his own hunting rifle. I am not quite sure what year that would have been. Maybe someone can help me with that? I would appreciate any info the experts at Field & Stream can share! The scope [below] is a mystery to me as well. The gun weighs about 10 to 12 pounds. Once I cleaned all the copper out of the barrel, I found the rifle shot very straight. I once went 5 for 5 at 550 yards with it, and that earned the rifle the nickname “Chuck” after [USMC sniper] Chuck Mawhinney.
I shot it once with the original scope on, and it seemed to be in working order. It doesn’t have much magnification (1X or maybe 2X), but the dot in the scope is so small, it is very hard to even see. So, I put a Nikon on it, and since then have used it successfully on four elk hunts. I am glad to be able to honor my elders and I feel a sense of pride when I carry this rifle in the field.
According to the newspaper story (datelined May 20, no year) Nick sent along with the pictures of his rifle, his granduncle Glenn was one of the gunsmiths chosen to evaluate the ’03 Springfields and 1917 Enfields the government was buying back from private citizens who had previously bought them as surplus rifles. Since many would have been altered so much that they would be impractical as service rifles, or would have been in unsuitable or even unsafe condition, a number of gunsmiths across the country were selected to evaluate the rifles, including Glenn Striggow.
The top amount paid was $47.64 for a Springfield and $12.50 for an Enfield, and the rifles were reissued to the U.S. Army. Somewhere along the way, Glenn Striggow evidently found a tired old Springfield that he rebuilt for himself, and he did a very good job, judging by the success Nick has found with it on elk and at the range.
This must have been an early WWII program, but I will confess to never having heard of it before. I will echo Nick in calling upon Field & Stream experts—which very much includes the readership of this blog—to fill in more details of the story. Meanwhile, send your gun pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can keep this feature going through 2018.