Transferred from .303 thread:
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Michael wrote: "I have had a couple of the 303's and also a 308 Lee Enfield. What I have found is that the chambers are relatively loose because they had to fire muddy. That combined with the rear only bolt lugs, well none were all that accurate and I thought 2 MOA shooting was on a really good day. The cartridge itself is fine. I did not experiment with the 303's and simply shot the military ammo at paper. I did kill a 320 lb hog with one and ironically it was a perfect heart shot. All that said I decided to do my best with the 308 version made in India. So I fired a bunch of Winchester Supremes I had stockpiled and kept the brass. Then I neck sized those and used the most accurate loading with which I had garnered about 3 MOA. Well, eureka. I was now down to 1 MOA because the nickel plated cases were sized for the chamber of that specific rifle. Still have that one and I hunt with it occasionally just for the fun of it."
Michael, like many of my contemporary men I have been hunting with a Lee Enfield .303 since I could carry it for a morning and shoot it steady off-hand - which is the test we use before allowing boys to hunt with any rifle. In ballistics and on-game performance there is no difference between the .303 and the .308W, using similar weight bullets. I have a good looking, very lightweight Lee Enfield which is at least a 1 MOA shooter after I had done a proper accurising job on it. Accurising a Lee Enfield action is 9 steps to pshycological counseling if you do not know the unique steps in a definitive order to take. On the other forum I advised a rifle builder and bullet maker and in one step he shrunk his 100 yard groups from 3" to 1.5"
The .303 Mk. VII bullet is the most accurate 1,000 yrd military round ever. It is useless for big game hunting due to the woodfiller / aluminium in the FMJ nose section and the severe rearward centre of mass which causes it to tumble on impact - a meat spoiler by design.
For < 200 yard hunting of big and small game I use Peregrine 168gr VRG-3 semi flat point bullets at 2,600 ft/sec in mine, and 150 gr VRG-4 for plains game at 2,750 ft.sec.
Here is mine:
With 215 gr solid shank bullets penetration of the .303 equals that of the legendary 7x57 with 175gr similar bullets, equalling the 30-06 with 200 gr. The South African built military target rifle was a .308 W chambered Musgrave barrel on the No. 4 Mk.1 Lee Enfield. My Air Force issued piece had logged 18,800 7.62x51 NATO rds when I finally bought my own Musgrave RSA target rifle. That Lee Enfield and got me into the Air Force National Bisley team.
In my opinion the No.4 Mk. 1&2 actions are anytime as strong as any Mauser..
recoiljunky: I dearly want an SMLE rifle as they intrigue me. Calibre wouldn't matter a wit, but a 303 would fit nicely in my gun collection.
bullet.behaviour: RJ, I would look for a Savage built No. 4 Mk.I or II. Friend Tom is the expert to advise you on that. The best barrels were made by Lithgow in Australia and of course later by Musgrave here in South Africa.
The ex Santa Fe reworked No.4 Mk. IIs look fairly good but the receivers have been butchered and front stock inletting are mostly done very poorly. The stock on my local Enfield shown above is from a Santa Fe I bought there and it needed days of outside work and days of carefully building up the inside contact surfaces for the receiver metal. In time read the web page in this site on the .303 Lee Enfield:
The SMLE (what is called the "Bulldog Lee Enfield" here because of the flat front end as opposed to the extending barrel beyond the front stock of the No.4 series) has a real pencil barrel which needs a factory expert "packer". It has to have the precise thickness and position of cork sheeting both underneath and on top of the barrel for accuracy (thence the term "packing" and not inletting. Even the No. 4s with the thicker barrels I have seen in the USA have these removed because of the US shooters' believe in free floating. None of the Musgraves, BRNOs, Lee Enfields in my family has or has ever had a free floated barrel and all are .5 MOA shooters.
Pity most of our stuff have been moved from Craig but I suggest you arrange with T. to bring the one with the rear peep sight so you can shoot it right there. US ammunition is severely underloaded (47,000psi) due to SAAMI silliness but a box of Herters or Privy Partizan will still give you an idea. As mentioned above I handload 168gr Peregrines to 2,600 ft/sec and only beause I have an accuracy node there. 2,700 ft/sec would be 61,000 psi which is still below the 62,000 my Bisley Enfield had experienced in excess of 18,000 times.
Some reworked Lee Enfields from the internet:
A No.4 Mk.IV .308W / 7.62x51 NATO above
A No.4 Mk.II .308W / 7.62x51 NATO above
All .308W / 7.62x51 NATO
Africa .303 sniper: "Which one, seh?" frhunter13: Hey that monkey shot is hoot!
I still have two of the 303 Enfields. One is a No.1 Mark 3 that shoots low and left. It is unissued and rarely fired. It's a wall hangar. The other was made by Savage here in the USA. It is a No. 4 Mark 1 stamped "US Property". It shoots rather well if I make the ammo. The US rifles have a second bolt lug up front I believe, and I hear the Brits did not like them because it is much harder to get the bolt out of the action and back in. It has not been "Accurized", or so attempted - not wishing myself to require a lobotomy. Replacing the military barrel to me is not "Accurizing", but customizing. Properly done and aligned would be the only way I know of to cure a sloppy chamber, other than fire forming cases.
Those are some beautifully done rifles in those pictures though.
On a different note, I find the Enfield bolt throw and action more favorable than the Mauser, and I like the detachable magazine. So I am guessing a properly modified Enfield could be one I like BETTER than a Mauser. To note, I did have a 45/70 that was a No4. Mark 1 conversion rifle. It was a beauty and a very good shooter. That's where I got my 458 Win Magnum Mauser actually, as it was a trade for my Enfield 45/70.
frhunter13: Actually my Savage 303 Enfield is a No4 Mark II, not a Mark I. I have target peep for it but never put it on.
frhunter13: Ack. Just went and took it down off the wall. It IS a Savage