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New Enfield SMLE - I need schooled (Warning, tons of photos) Login/Join 
Prepared for the Worst, Providing the Best
Picture of 92fstech
posted
So I got a little carried away at the Sheriff's auction and came home with a few things. This one I primarily bought because my son is really interested in surplus, and thought it would be cool. I know it's an Enfield SMLE, and appears to have been made in 1917, but beyond that I'm clueless. It appears to be numbers matching...at least everywhere I can find an S/N, they match (including the magazine, although that oen appears to have been assigned to two other rifles at different times in it's life, and those markings were etched out). An LGS has a couple of Ishapore Enfields (or so they claim, I don't know how to tell the difference) that are a lot rougher than this one that they're asking $900+ for. I paid $425, so I figure I'm at least ahead of that. I took it apart to clean it up, and it appears to be in pretty good shape...only missing the rear stock bedding spring, and some chipped wood here and there. The bore was dirty but cleaned up well, and overall the finish is very good with only a tiny amount of surface rust that we cleaned up.

It appears that .303 British ammo and components have disappeared off the face of the earth since 1917. I can't find any for sale anywhere, but I did learn that you can resize .30-40 Krag brass into .303, so I ordered a few cases to give that a try (who'd have known that we'd someday live in a world when Krag components were easier to source than .303 British?!?).

If anybody could tell me anything about where this thing was made, modifications, approximate value, etc. I'd love to learn more about it.























 
Posts: 5362 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Sorry I can't be much help with your specific questions but you do indeed own a cool WW1 relic! It is a #1 Mk 3 IIRC, as opposed to the Mk4 #2 in my gun safe. Your importer is Century Arms Intl. Ammo is still available although surplus has pretty much dried up several years ago. There are many sources of information about these rifles.
Good luck & enjoy the 'new' piece of history!
 
Posts: 2474 | Location: Troy, MI | Registered: October 18, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Fighting the good fight
Picture of RogueJSK
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Originally built at the Royal Small Arms Factory in Enfield in 1917 as a No. 1 Mk. III*. At some point after WW1, it was reverted back to a No. 1 Mk. III model, and the * was crossed out.

The primary difference between a III and III* was that the * model deleted the magazine cutoff. So basically it was originally produced without the provision for one, and then the magazine cutoff was added back in during the interwar period. (But then the cutoff plate appears to have been removed again at some point in its life, which is not uncommon.)

It went through at least two arsenal rebuilds/refurbishments, in 1934 and 1938. And it looks like the barrel was also replaced during a third rebuild/refurb in 1944.

Altogether, it's a nice force-matched arsenal refurbished SMLE, at a good price these days.


As for .303 ammo, Prvi Partisan makes runs of it fairly regularly. (Or at least did pre-COVID.)

Be careful with surplus .303 ammo. There's a lot of crappy surplus ammo from Pakistan and similar places out there, which is very poor quality. British Commonwealth surplus ammo can be better, just understand that a lot of British .303 ammo was produced using cordite instead of gunpowder, and cordite can break down with age. As a result, hangfires are more common with old cordite ammo.

Greek HXP .303 ammo is the best surplus .303 out there, if you can manage to find some. Great quality, uses powder, and the high quality brass cases are boxer primed and reloadable.

If you want surplus ammo, keep an eye on milsurp forums like Gunboards and the CMP Forum, where surplus .303 ammo pops up for sale from time to time.


Once you source some ammo, the next thing to keep an eye out for is a Pattern 1907 sword bayonet to go with it. Big Grin


I have two SMLEs, a 1918 Enfield and a 1937 BSA, shown in the middle of the family photo here along with a Pattern 14, a No. 4 Mk. 1, a No. 5 Mk. 1:


Also have two related 2A1s in .308:

This message has been edited. Last edited by: RogueJSK,
 
Posts: 28237 | Location: Northwest Arkansas | Registered: January 06, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Prepared for the Worst, Providing the Best
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Thanks guys, that's very informative. Ther are so many marks stamped on this thing I didn't even know where to start. Documentation on the web was all over the place, and it seems that the serial numbers were possibly duplicated by various factories as well, so I was having trouble narrowing down what we had. The only other milsurps I own are Garands, and data on those seems to be much better organized...not to mention about 30 years more recent.

Any recommendations on where to source new stock bedding springs (or whatever the correct name is for those things)? Taking it down was a bit of an experience...that two piece stock is goofy as heck (it does still have a little bottle inside the buttplate with a little screwdriver or scraper thingy attached to the inside of the cap, which we thought was cool), and I found it interesting that it was actually more difficult to strip this bolt action than it is my Garands...although to be fair I imagine they didn't allow guys in the field to do what I did last night...likely only remove the bolt for cleaning.

My son is super excited about it, and I told him he's going to be responsible for feeding it, since I don't own anything else in .303, so it'll be a good opportunity for him to learn to reload as well. And yes, Rogue, he's already got his eye out for a Bayonet, lol!

I think we're heading down the mil-surp rabbit hole in 2022. I really want a 1903 and a 1917, amongst other things, and applied for my Type 03 C&R FFL last week, so we'll see where this takes us. I know I'm late to the game...should have done this years ago when guns were getting sold out of barrels in gun shops for $50, and surplus ammo was abundant and cheap...but hopefully I can still find some deals and snag a few shooters before they're all gone.
 
Posts: 5362 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Fighting the good fight
Picture of RogueJSK
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I'm guessing that when you're talking about the "stock bedding springs", you may be referring to the inner band screw spring and the forend stud spring.

You can get these springs from Numrich:
https://www.gunpartscorp.com/g...kiii/parts-list-no-1

#38 and #50

#38 is shorter and goes around the screw for the small metal band around the barrel. #50 is taller and goes under the U-shaped stud in the forend near the muzzle. (So of the two, #38 would be the "rear" one.)

 
Posts: 28237 | Location: Northwest Arkansas | Registered: January 06, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Hop head
Picture of lyman
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it was never force matched,

Enfield folks get a bit tickled by using that phrase and an Enfield,

during the rebuild process everything is gaged, fitted, etc and then numbered to the receiver,

semantics,, yes,, but the enfield collectors take offense, (or point and giggle)


overall tho, nice rifle,

your matching numbers should be on the following,

Nosecap (stamped on the bayonet boss)
stock, or rather, forestock, (this one is a maybe, depending on a few factors and it should be up near the swivel)
bottom of rear sight
barrel
bolt
receiver
magazine


IIRC, the dates on the left side, 31 and 34, are view marks,

a percentage of rifles were pulled from stores and examined, stamped, and returned to stores,
to make sure all was good, no issues etc



hopefully you pulled off the forearm first, before you turned the screw in the buttstock

Enfields have a particular way to take them down, not following the 'protocols' will result in messing up the draws, which is basically the bedding area of the rifle's action and stock,



if you want more , and much more detailed, info, I would suggest you go over to Gunboards Lee Enfield section and surf,



to me it is a bit easier to navigate than milsurps, but both are great sites,



www.chesterfieldarmament.com
 
Posts: 9390 | Location: Beach VA,not VA Beach | Registered: July 17, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Hop head
Picture of lyman
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Roque's Ammo advice is spot on,

HXP is the gold standard, and some of the new PPU is well thought off,

S&B,, not so much


BTW, to answer you value question,
you did very well at $425,,

Mid Atlantic area, I would have that gun on my tables at 625-650 and sell it in a weekend,



www.chesterfieldarmament.com
 
Posts: 9390 | Location: Beach VA,not VA Beach | Registered: July 17, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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A local store has new Winchester .303 British brass in 50 round bags.

Email for details.

PC
 
Posts: 1086 | Location: NW Wyoming | Registered: November 23, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by lyman:
Roque's Ammo advice is spot on,

HXP is the gold standard, and some of the new PPU is well thought off,

S&B,, not so much


IMO, the German MEN that was sold pre-pandemic was quite good along with South African surplus when it could be found. There was some noncorrosive late production FN around too. Oh, and early 1980's Winchester white box "military contract" stuff that was said to have been made to send to Afghanistan to blast at the Russians, but I don't really buy that story, but the ammo is nice.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: M1Garandy,
 
Posts: 688 | Location: Midwest | Registered: April 13, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
semi-reformed sailor
Picture of MikeinNC
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https://www.milsurps.com/forum...ec9f5dd431e70a7025bb

Milsurp.com has a whole area for SMLEs..lots of info



"Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor.”
― Robert A. Heinlein

“ You may beat me, but you will never win.” sigmonkey-2020

 
Posts: 9184 | Location: Temple, Texas! | Registered: October 07, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Prepared for the Worst, Providing the Best
Picture of 92fstech
posted Hide Post
quote:
I'm guessing that when you're talking about the "stock bedding springs", you may be referring to the inner band screw spring and the forend stud spring.

You can get these springs from Numrich:
https://www.gunpartscorp.com/g...kiii/parts-list-no-1

#38 and #50

#38 is shorter and goes around the screw for the small metal band around the barrel. #50 is taller and goes under the U-shaped stud in the forend near the muzzle. (So of the two, #38 would be the "rear" one.)



Yep, that's exactly it, thanks!

quote:
Nosecap (stamped on the bayonet boss)
stock, or rather, forestock, (this one is a maybe, depending on a few factors and it should be up near the swivel)
bottom of rear sight
barrel
bolt
receiver
magazine


Yep, all of those are there, except the stock. And yeah, I did some reading before I took it down, so no damage inflicted! It is quite the chore to get everything apart on that thing, though...especially for a bolt-action rifle.

As far as ammo goes, at this point I'd have to take what I can get. Like I said, I have some Krag brass coming...we'll see if I can make that work. I also have a buddy who said he might have some old stuff that he doesn't trust to shoot, but I could pull down for components, so if that works out I may have a source there.

Anybody ever have any success shooting .308 bullets through these? I tried dropping a 173gr .308 bullet in from muzzle, and it wont't go in..engages the lands solidly right at the base of the ogive. Makes me think there might be enough diameter there to stabilize it...but I'd question the neck tension on a case sized for .311. I found a source for .311 bullets online and have a few coming, so I probably won't attempt anything with the .308s...just curious.

quote:
A local store has new Winchester .303 British brass in 50 round bags.

Email for details.

PC


Thanks! I'm meeting my buddy tonight about the old ammo that I might be able to pull-down. I'll see what he's got and if it won't work, I'll shoot you an e-mail.
 
Posts: 5362 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Hop head
Picture of lyman
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quote:
Originally posted by M1Garandy:
quote:
Originally posted by lyman:
Roque's Ammo advice is spot on,

HXP is the gold standard, and some of the new PPU is well thought off,

S&B,, not so much


IMO, the German MEN that was sold pre-pandemic was quite good along with South African surplus when it could be found. There was some noncorrosive late production FN around too. Oh, and early 1980's Winchester white box "military contract" stuff that said to have been made to send to Afghanistan to blast at the Russians, but I don't really buy that story, but the ammo is nice.


good ammo, correct, but I think that is all berdan primed,

HXP is Boxer, easily reloaded



www.chesterfieldarmament.com
 
Posts: 9390 | Location: Beach VA,not VA Beach | Registered: July 17, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Nothing to add lots of good info given. The HXP or MEN .303 Brit is some of the best ammo out there. You may be surprised on how often HXP .303 ammo comes up for sale in the ammunition for sale section on the CMP forum.

Enjoy. Nice rifle.
 
Posts: 3539 | Registered: January 17, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Prepared for the Worst, Providing the Best
Picture of 92fstech
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quote:
good ammo, correct, but I think that is all berdan primed,

HXP is Boxer, easily reloaded


Good info, thanks. I'm not much for spending money on ammo with cases that I can't reload.
 
Posts: 5362 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by 92fstech:
Like I said, I have some Krag brass coming...we'll see if I can make that work.


Krag brass seems to always be harder to find than .303. You might be money ahead to trade that Krag brass for .303.

Also, if memory serves, many Enfields like flat base bullets vs. boat tails.

Something you won't know until you get to the range.

If you decide to check the headspace, remember UK MOD Field gauge specs are different than the SAAMI spec gauges most places want to sell you.
 
Posts: 688 | Location: Midwest | Registered: April 13, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Prepared for the Worst, Providing the Best
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Good to know. As for the Krag brass...apparently Graf and Sons makes their own. They have it in stock for $35/50, which isn't bad, IMO. I also want to get a Krag down the road, so I figured I'd snag some now, and convert a little bit so we can at least try out the Enfield.
 
Posts: 5362 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I highly doubt any .308 would work in a .303 Brit. I will be honest. I would be surprised if your .311 would even work. They made those bores wide. You may be best served slugging the bore. You may have one that will take a .311 or .312 and you can find jacketed bullets for it. One of the LE’s I have and shoot most often is a .314 bore. Not a big deal if you shoot cast bullets.
 
Posts: 3539 | Registered: January 17, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
The 2nd guarantees the 1st
Picture of fiasconva
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Check out this site. It's very informative and has lots of info on Enfields: Enfield-rifles.com



"Even if the world were perfect it wouldn't be." ... Yogi Berra
 
Posts: 1554 | Location: York County, VA | Registered: August 25, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
fugitive from reality
Picture of SgtGold
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I don't know how the term 'force match' got started, but it's used to denote the fitting of a part not originally on a rifle. At least you ended up with a matching parts rifle, even if it was through an arsenal rebuild.

I have some of that Paki cordite ammo. It's known as Paki click bang for a reason. At times it almost feels like you're firing a black power rifle.


_____________________________
'I'm pretty fly for a white guy'.

 
Posts: 6974 | Location: Newyorkistan | Registered: March 28, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Prepared for the Worst, Providing the Best
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My buddy came through with a bunch of old surplus ammo last night. He advised me not to try and shoot it... a lot of it was really corroded, and he said he found it in a guy's basement in a ammo can with about 2 inches of water in it. He'd been into .303 a number of years back, but this was all he had left...it was in his scrap bucket. He also gave me a book on the .303 cartridge, and some other really detailed documentation on the Enfield rifles in general. It'll give me something to read on vacation next week.

Most of the ammo is Berdan primed, from the 1940s...303 Mk VII and Mk VII Z, but there's some boxer primed stuff in there as well. I've got it in the tumbler cleaning it up, and my son started in with the bullet puller. We ought to be able to at least salvage the projectiles and some of the brass.

I had him start with the boxer primed stuff, as that's going to be the most useful to us. Most of it was nitro powder, but he also found some cordite, and got all excited. It was the first time I'd ever seen any in person, too. We burned a bit of it just to see what it would do. The first stick I burned flared up initially, but only burned half the stick then went out. Not particularly confidence inspiring for a propellant!
 
Posts: 5362 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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