[Guest Post] Tom's Black Rifle

Steve Johnson
by Steve Johnson

[ I am pleased to present this guest post written by David Gomez (aka. redmanlaw). The photo was by his 7th grade son Joaquin. ]

The term “Black Rifle” has become synonymous with the AR-15. My Black Rifle is a 1942 Remington M1903A3.

The rifle came into the family when my late father in law Tom Ansley, a union electrician who worked in West Texas and eastern New Mexico, ordered it for $14.50 around 1961 from the Pueblo Ordnance Depot. After I married Tom’s daughter Inez I would bump into the action and barrel in the closet of his wife Emerita’s sewing room at their ranch in Mora County, New Mexico, put aside and forgotten, but not by me.

Feeling the burden of his 90-some years, Tom and Emerita had me bundle up his rifles – a pair of Savage 99s in .308 and .250-3000, a pre- 1964 Model 70 .243, a 1943 M1903A3 and an old Savage 28 12 ga shotgun – and other shooting and reloading gear one day and take them back to Santa Fe. I pledged to care for them and cherish them just as I did several years earlier with their daughter.

The unstocked M1903A3 intrigued me with “SA 4-42” stamped above and below the Flaming Onion cartouche. It had been drilled and tapped for a scope mount, its dark finish was mostly unmarred, except for some wear and tear. Wanting to shoot it, I ordered an inexpensive black synthetic stock from Cabela’s and dropped in the action and barrel. A gunsmith cut a notch in the stock for the bolt handle and checked the headspace.

I wanted to make my version of a post-war sporterized rifle, something a guy would put together for hunting deer and elk. I found a vintage Weaver K4 scope in Tom’s stuff and mounted it on the rifle. The scope was high enough so that the safety worked. I laser bore sighted it and headed to the range, actually just a berm bulldozed into some BLM land west of town.

Once sighted in, my black rifle easily shot groups of two inches or so at a hundred yards with ammo it liked. The old scope with a dot reticule was sharp despite its age. I’ve been shooting it weekly recently as I’m taking it hunting this fall as my backup to Tom’s .308 Savage 99.

Tom died two years ago this winter. I’ll be in the woods every year as long as I can, carrying one of Tom’s guns or a Marlin .30-30 I got from my dad.

[ Steve says: One of the attributes I love most about firearms is the very personal history each one carries with it. A gun will easily outlive its owner and, if well cared for, outlive generations. ]

Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson

I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!

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