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1903 “Air Service” Springfield with 20 Round Magazine

1903 Springfield with 20 round magazine

At Camp Perry this year, I saw probably the weirdest 1903 I will ever lay my eyes on. Looked like a regular 1903 but someone had attached a 20 round extended magazine! At the time, I was convinced it was some kind of kitchen-table gunsmith job. I’ve seen some similar conversions in Europe involving G3 magazines.

Up close of rare 1903 20 round mag variant.
Up close of rare 1903 20 round mag variant.

Right now I don’t recall the asking price, but I don’t think it was outrageous. No doubt, that influenced my perception it was home-brew. Whelp, no. It appears this 1903 with the 20 round box magazine is a rare bird. Some say it was a trench-gun mod that was supposed to be attached to the periscope aiming device. Other sources say it was designed for the US Army Air Service.

1903 w/20 round magazine
1903 “Air Service” rifle w/20 round magazine. I found this photo online.

“…1903 Springfield Rifle that has been fitted with the Rare 20 shot extended box magazine. The extended box magazine is one of the original WWI era magazines that were used/issued in the scarce 1903 “Air Service” rifle variation, which was intended to be used in WWI observation balloons and early WWI spotter aircraft. These magazines were subsequently also used during WWI in the trenches to increase the fire power of the rifles. These magazine are fairly scarce to find on today ‘s market as no one wanted them because they increase the weight of the rifle and extended below the stock which made firing in the prone position almost impossible to do. The rifle itself, as noted, is a late WWI production version that was rebarreled by Springfield Armory and is marked with the US Ordnance…”

Knowing then what I know now, would I have bought it? Dunno. Maybe. I am in the market for a 1903 but have been holding out for a sniper variant. And shooting this prone is probably not optimal. But…the idea of this rifle being somewhat legitimate, would have been tempting. Price dependent of course.

Many people go to Camp Perry to compete. If you have never been, remember, you can go there to shop as well.




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