With the recommendation of Brig. Gen. William Crozier, Chief of Ordnance, then-Secretary of War William H. Taft on 19 June 1903 adopted U.S. Rifle Model 1903 .30 as the standard infantry rifle of the Army.
The very first production rifle, SN#1 left the assembly line at Springfield Armory in November of the same year (100 prototype rifles never saw service outside of tests).
The first year’s production saw 30,503 rifles produced in just two months, with Springfield suspending production for good in 1940 with SN#1,592,563, switching to the M1 Garand exclusively while Remington and Smith Corona spent the rest of WWII making M1903A3/A4 variants.
Good ole SN#1 floated around for about 14 years, was modified in 1905, rebarreled in 1909 (it carries the mark SA/bomb/4-09), and then issued in WWI.
The man who received it, according to legend, was Frank C. Lynaugh, of Haverhill, Ma., who carried the weapon while attached to the E Company of the 49th Infantry Regiment.
Mr. Lynaugh claimed the weapon was issued to him in troop camp while in Syracuse, N.Y. in 1917 still packed in cosmoline. He carried the weapon with him to France. But while training with a Signal Unit in France, the weapon was taken away from him. Mr. Lynaugh was issued an M1917 Enfield. “I hated the darn Enfields,” said Lynaugh, “and wished I had my Springfield back.”
Fifty-six years later, while visiting the Springfield Armory, Mr. Lynaugh got his wish. He told the curator, Tom Wallace, that he carried the first M1903 rifle made. Wallace went to the storage area and retrieved the weapon. “Yes sir, that’s my old gun. I got old, but it looks the same,” said Lynaugh.
As you may have guessed, the gun was found with troops in France and shipped back to the states, where it likely sat in arsenal storage for several more years before it was transferred to the Springfield Armory from the Ordnance Office, Washington, D.C. on 8 July 1925. It is believed the original stock was probably damaged in museum fire and has since been restocked, but has been in the museum’s collection ever since.