View Full Version : I have joined the ranks of Lee Enfield collectors
08-16-2009, 07:18 PM
As mentioned on my most recent post, I have been trolling round the Big Reno Show in search of Lee Enfield No.4s. There were some very crappy overpriced examples, and some very reasonable priced good condition LE rifles. I had gone round the show 3 times in 3 days (visiting almost every stall twice per day), and I was in the process of making up my mind what I really wanted. My first choice was a British made No.4 Mk.1, Mk.1/2 or Mk.2 (or American equivalents with the bolt release catch). My very close second choice was a No.1 Mk.III.
On my way over to meet my father-in-law so that we could leave, I spotted a Lee Enfield out of the corner of my eye, and I could have sworn it was not there the 6 previous times I walked past that particular vendor. The rifle was a No.1 Mark.III dated 1914, manufactured at BSA. The serial numbers matched throughout, including magazine. The serial number was 4 digits beginning with 8. I did notice that there was a slot in the side of the action body for a magazine cutoff, but none had been fitted (comments please). The bore was beautiful and I could not see and significant wear, and the finish showed minimal wear. Cosmoline was in every nook and cranny. The asking price? $225. I brought it. Now the question is this - did I screw up, or did I make a good choice for my first Lee Enfield?
08-16-2009, 07:30 PM
Sounds like a damn good buy to me.
08-16-2009, 07:34 PM
Pictures will be forthcoming as soon as I have worked out how to use the bloody camera.
08-17-2009, 02:35 AM
A few questions. My 1914 No.1 Mk.III does not have a cutoff, but it has the slot. Could this have been due to the factory using up No.1 Mk.III components before or during the switch over to the Mk.III*, or should I be in the market for a replacement cutoff?
Next. Would it be proper for a 1914 No.1 Mk.III (assuming that it is a transitional model) to have a marking disc on the butstock? Mine has a wooden plug in the hole, so I would like to know if I should remove it and get a marking disc to replace it.
Last. The rear sight does not have a windage adjustment, but everything else on the rear sight looks original. To bring this rifle as close to its original configuration in 1914, what should be on the top of the rear sight, and where could I get one?
To my surprise, the rifle does not look buggered with in any major way. There are no volley sights, but I assume that is because of the change over to the Mk.III* (again, assuming that this is a transitional model). The stock is walnut (I assume), and has the usual dings and scrapes (but a beautiful "tiger stripe" pattern) and appears to be original. The rifle did pass through the horror that is C.I.A. (I do not like those guys - at all), but appears to have emerged almost completely intact.
08-17-2009, 05:39 AM
1 It had a cutoff to start. It was possibly removed when the marking disc hole was plugged.
2 Discs were removed post WWI some plugged, others not. Don't worry about getting another, its just part of its history!
3 Windage adjustable sight was normal in 1914. A new sight will have the wrong number but you could line out the old and add the new number.
4 Volley sights would also be normal. Quickly phased out though! If your rifle doesn't have the * after the Mk III, then it would have had them.
Plenty of clues may be found when the fore end is removed. Mostly check it, clean it, then shoot!!
08-17-2009, 11:59 AM
Thank you for the comments. I don't want to mess with the rifle, just refine it a little to get it closer to the way it would have looked in service. The only thing I am thinking of changing is the very top part of the rear sight (not the complete rear sight - I want to keep that serial number!), which looks to be a relatively modern replacement. Where could I find a windage adjustment (or suitable contemporary replacement)?
08-17-2009, 12:49 PM
It is ok, I have found a source for windage adjusters (actually the rear sight with the windage adjustment, but it won't take me long to swap out the pieces - I hope) for $20 at Apex Gun Parts.
08-17-2009, 09:18 PM
Good choice. It sounds like the rifle went through an overhaul before being packed in grease. Is the finish black paint (suncorite) or a greyish bluing?
Is the woodwork walnut or beech (light colour)?
The markings on the Nock's Form (swell) of the barrel will tell whether it has been rebarreled, and it would be very surprising if it hadn't I think.
A rifle that was carried in WWI no doubt, by soldiers of the 'New Armies' of 1915/16 if I was to bet, but it could well have got to France in 1914 too with mobilized reservists. There you are: Retreat to Mons, the Mad Minute on the Conde Canal...;-)
08-17-2009, 10:19 PM
I have it stripped down at the minute (way too much grease, and I will be doing the old "wrapped in paper and plastic and left in the car" trick on the wood - which is walnut), so what kinds of marks am I looking for on the Nock's form (there are plenty of stamps in the area)? The finish is a very dark grey bluing with minimal wear (from what I can tell).
08-20-2009, 02:23 AM
Good signs. Sounds like a pre-WWII FTR then, if any.
First and foremost the date on the barrel, which is usually two digits with an apostrophe in front: '14, '15, etc. A barrel with the BSA crossed rifles would be an obvious refit. Barrel should be serial numbered to the action/body of course.
Stripping the stock if it is half decent will get some people very upset! I'm not upset, it's your rifle, but if the finish on the metal is original, or at least correct for the time, I would think long and hard before stripping the stock. There's nothing worse than a rifle with nice original metal and a stock that looks like it just left the dipping tank, with 90 years of patina lost from the wood forever. It's analogous to stripping fine furniture - almost always a mistake. That well-rubbed glow with the grain worn smooth and the pores well-filled is impossible to replicate. Even steel wooling can be a big mistake.
However, we've all done it I suspect!
08-20-2009, 06:55 PM
I am only getting the excess oil/grease out of the stock (it is pouring out due to the temperature, humidity and altitude changes the poor rifle has gone through being brought to Reno - 4500ft altitude and in the middle of a desert - yikes!). I am not doing any refinishing except for a tiny bit of boiled linseed oil - I like the look of the wood, and I have done nothing so far to change it. The patina and walnut "tiger" striping are unchanged, I promise. Besides, I lazy lol.
The barrel is serialed to the action body, and it looks like the barrel was replaced in 1937.
08-29-2009, 12:30 AM
How about a few pics when you've got it cleaned up?
08-29-2009, 01:21 AM
Will do. I am planning to borrow my father-in-law's good digital camera (mine is no good for close up focus work) over the weekend, and will post some pictures then. I managed to get down to the range again, and worked on zeroing the rifle at 25 yards (the wind was just too crazy to try anything out at 100 yards - 20mph gusts and, at 1 point, a rather large dust twister went right across the range, left to right)), and I managed to get a 3/4" grouping with M.P.I. 3/4" above the bull with the open sights adjusted to 200 yards(apparently that is exactly what should happen) in the prone position. Less talk, pics over weekend.
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