Springfield 1903s still serve in at least one weird way (PHOTOS)
By Chris Eger
Images from a recent joint exercise showed that a vintage rifle is still in service with at least one branch of the military. The photo, from the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf, participating in the annual Rim of the Pacific exercise in July, shows a Coastie firing a line gun to an Australian Navy oiler. For those with sharp eyes, it is easy to spot that the rifle is a tweaked Springfield 1903.
Naval and merchant ships have used line-throwing rifles (and shotguns, as well as small cannon) for centuries to heave lines from ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore to greater distances than what could be done with sailor or mariner and a slungshot. Currently, the Navy uses modified M14s and M16s for this job while the Coast Guard still uses their slightly more elegant 1903s.
In the old days, the service used Coston Shoulder Guns – a converted U.S. Springfield Trapdoor Model 1884 rifle in .45-70. However, around the 1930s these began to be supplemented by a series of line throwing 1903s.
These 30.06-caliber rifles were converted by having the barrel rifling and sights removed to produce a 24-inch smooth bore popgun with the handguard shortened to match. Two-pounds of lead was placed in