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 made No. 4 Mark I after all, heh. I have not fired it in ten years.
bullet.behaviour: My No.4 Mk.I is a Savage with "US Property" on the side. That inscription was put there for political reasons.
You are absolutely correct, Michael - THE quickest, safest DG rifle is a control feed action with cock-on-close. The very reason the Pattern 14/17 action is so popular here for conversion to 9.3x62 / .375 H&H / .458 Lott.
I remember being skewered by a poster on the other forum for saying that the Lee Enfield action is controlled feed. He did not own one but was an "expert".
Recoil Junky knows exactly what the caption under the baboon photo is about... I trust he was not having his coffee at his computer.
Michael, that left and low group is due to the two rear lobes of the front stock not having equal pressure on the front of the butt socket, and also the the two narrow "draws" inside rear. Is your Enfield still in military wood? If it is, take the wood off and soak it for two weeks in RAW linseed oil - not the fake "boiled" stuff they sell there. Over time the wood dries and shrinks.
Note exactly where the under and over-barrel pressure corks are and re-install them as they were. Once out of the oil repeatedly wipe every last trace of surface oil from the stock inside and outside before reassembling.
recoiljunky: I just like 'em 'cause they look cool. So tell me more about the detachable box magazine? And yes I will get with Tommy when I see him at work.
By 14/17 do you mean one like my 1917 Enfield? I could never see why cock on closing was such a bad thing, except at 12 I had a hard time closing the bolt.
frhunter13: Yes the No.3 Mark 1 Lee Enfield is exactly as it ever was. Totally Mil Spec. never altered and with the very bayonet that was always with it. That's why it is a wall hangar, and I don't really care a whit how it shoots, heh. It is simply fun to look at! I did take it to shoot one day though. Several of my wall hangers I have never shot, and probably never will.
Recoil, I was talking about the Lee Enfields, not the P's. The P's are quite heavy to me, and the safety is atrocious. I got rid of my P17 3006 custom sporter because taking the rifle off safe was a darn noisy affair!
frhunter13: By the way. I still get my numbers and marks mixed up on those Lee Enfields. How confusing.
bullet.behaviour: "I still get my numbers and marks mixed up on those Lee Enfields. How confusing." That's the Brits.... but they understood it and that was all that was needed. :-)
RJ, indeed, I referred to the P14 .303 and P17 30-06. We never see any P17s here but the P14 action is popular for conversion to DG actions. The belly bulge can be removed.
The Lee Magazine holds ten rounds - I also have a five-round box which gives me a little grief feeding the first and last round, must still study it carefully to identify the issue.
You never need to remove the magazine as it loads easily by hand from the top. It is handy though for rendering the rifle safe quickly when approaching the vehicle after a hunt.
Michael, my P14 safety is as smooth and as quiet as they come.
bullet.behaviour: By the way, RJ, when you have time, could you post that report on the hand-held Lee press on the forum here? Under Random Reports; real photos if possible - I distrust that Photobucket.
frhunter13: Yah. Mine was a P17, with a loud click as it went from safe to fire. Never knew if it was unusual, but I could not put up with it after it spooked my quarry once. The SMLE's were nice and quiet, as is that Savage.
bullet.behaviour: Many a kudu has been lost due to a loud safety. Certainly there was an issue with yours. I do not trust a safety in any rifle except the Enfield and the P14. Nothing wrong with a Mauser safety but for noise sake when the hunter with me has a Mauser action I insist he carries it with the bolt in the half-cock indent. Pushing the bolt down slowly makes for a quiet cocking action.
All Mauser actions are in fact cock-on-closing too despite what gun buffs say on forums: lifting the bolt merely tensions the spring an initial distance. Closing the bolt cocks the trigger and sear. When carried with the tensioning cam in the notch and pulling the trigger the cam is merely disengaged and the spring releases the bolt.
frhunter13: Can't you get a fire out of battery in that position? If it does go off your bolt becomes a bullet.
bullet.behaviour: No. Should there be an inadvertent pressure on the trigger then as the bolt handle moves down it releases the firing pin spring tension rather slowly and by the time the firing pin is ahead the lugs have locked.
bullet.behaviour: BTW, what is the trigger pressure on your Whelen?
frhunter13: The trigger pull on the Whelen is quite low, around a pound - no more. I don't have a gauge. It's not as light as after a set trigger is engaged though. The 458 and the 375HH are the same, about one pound.
I have one rifle with a set trigger which you must not engage unless you are ready for the gun to fire. At that point if you even touch the main trigger it fires. The set trigger is about 9 pounds on that one. The Whelen is not even close to that sensitivity.
Another of my rifles is a straight pull Mannlicher 8x56R. That one is really spooky cause I have no idea how it works and locks the bolt. The lugs must be engaged by the trigger I am guessing.
I would have to experiment some before I would trust a mauser that is not in full battery. It might open up and crap get into action as well, but I really have NO experience doing that!
bullet.behaviour: Geez that is LIGHT - 1 lb. All my rifles are 4 lbs except the .303 which is 3 lb.
In the hunting rifle shooting competitions the lightest allowed is 3 lbs and each rifle is tested when registering.
frhunter13: I was a Confederate reinactor for a few years. My cap and ball rifle was limited and measured to four lbs for our competitions. Other than that I only have two rifles that have heavy triggers. The 358 Browning BLR is 7lbs and my MP221 45/70 double is 9 lbs. Most of my other hunting rifles are in the 1 to 2 lb range with a couple in the 4 lb range like my Winchester lever guns.
The trigger in the Whelen and my 375HH are adjustable down to 4 oz, but I don't like them that light.
That double set trigger rifle needs great care. Once you set it, if you even touch the firing trigger you have launched that 485g 50 cal Maxiball at 1500 fps out of a 28" barrel in a cloud of black powder smoke. This will pick a deer up off its hooves, as I have witnessed.
bullet.behaviour: Gee, that Confederate replay appeals to me.
Too light is too light when under pressure of an off-hand shot where there is a 4 seconds window from shouldering the rifle to bolting by the beast. Of course not all shots are like that - but with an old, big kudu bull who has survived because he is good, that often happens.
No doubt you know your rifle well, but I would be uncomfortable if I had to carry and shoot such a light trigger. :) Not at all familiar to me.