To make up for the shortcomings seen in the Krag rifle adopted in 1896, the Army searched for a replacement around the turn of the century. The Army had seen the Mauser 7mm rifle in action in the Phillipines, and thought that a rifle that combined the features of the Mauser and the Krag would be a superior rifle. The Mauser was patented, however, and the U.S. paid royalties to Paul Mauser for rifles that fell within the claims of his patent.
A test model was designed, which used a five cartridge clip-loaded magazine in the stock. Several thousand were made, and tested and modified for two years. In 1903, the rifle was adopted as the Army's main battle rifle and soon adapted to a larger .30 caliber. The .30 caliber bullet was adopted in 1906, and was therefore called the 30-06 (thirty ought six). It had a range of 600 yards, more power than the Krag, a stronger bolt to handle the more powerful cartridge, and a much faster rate of fire.
It first saw action in Mexico, Haiti, and the jungles of Nicaragua and was found to be durable and accurate. It was used by American doughboys in WWI, and when compared with captured Mauser bolt action rifles, the design from which the 1903 sprang, it was found to be capable of twice the rate of fire of the Mauser. Fire from American positions was so rapid that Germans thought the American's had machine guns. The 1903 Springfield in the hands of U.S. Marines, earned them a new nickname, "Devil Dogs."
The rifle saw action part way through WWII, and was used by the Marines on Wake Island, Guadalcanal, and Corregedor, until it was replaced by the M-1 Garrand, as they became available. It was still used as a sniper rifle in Korea and Vietnam. It has been called the best bolt action rifle ever made.