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Thread: My four US 1917 Enfields - It's getting tougher to find originals with a good bore

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    Member Bob01605's Avatar
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    My four US 1917 Enfields - It's getting tougher to find originals with a good bore

    I have four 1917 US Enfields all in original condition .. In the photo of the four ..

    Rifle # 1 at the top is a Remington made rifle with a serial # in the 51XXX range. ME = 2.5 - excellent shooter
    Rifle # 2 is an Eddystone made rifle with a serial # in the 487XXX range. ME = 1.5 - very good+ shooter
    Rifle # 3 is an Eddystone made rifle with a serial # in the 825XXX range. ME = 2.5 - very good+ shooter
    Rifle # 4 is an Eddystone made rifle with a serial # in the 1162XXX range. ME = 3.5 rougher bore but a good shooter. This rifle is the only one with all "E" parts. The three rifles at the top have some parts made by an arsenal other than the manufacturer of the action.

    Things to consider ... It is a lot tougher to find a US 1917 Enfield in original condition especially with a decent (very good to excellent) ORIGINAL barrel than a 1903A3 Springfield or a Garandicon. These 1917 Enfield Riflesicon are nearly 100 years old now and some were shot with corrosive ammo and not cleaned properly. Some were also stored in areas of high humidity. When you have near 100 years of time to work on the steel, a little corrosion is bound to happen. Compare that with WW2 1903A3 Springfields or WW2 Garands whose barrels have had only about 70 - 75 years of time to deteriorate.

    Sights - While 1903A3 Springfields and Garands have a rear peep sight adjustable for both elevation and windage, the 1917 US Enfield is only adjustable for elevation. If you want to adjust windage on a 1917 Enfield, you tap the front sight over.

    Rifling - While the 1903A3 Springfield has 2 and 4 groove barrels with a right hand twist, the 1917 US Enfield has a 5 groove barrel with (for some reason) a left hand twist. This fact is really inconsequential in relation to accuracy



    Finish - AFAIK all original 1917 Enfields had a blued finish. There is information out there that many were rearsenaled and pressed into service during WW2. During the rearsenalling many were parkerized rather than reblued. One of my 1917 Enfields (#2 in the photo) does have a parkerized finish so I am guessing that this rifle was rearsenalled.

    ME - (muzzle erosion) - I always bring my ME gauge when checking out (locally) US Garands, Springfields and US Enfield for possible purchase. Since I am a hobby shooter of military rifles and not a collector, the ME gauge plus a visual inspection of the barrel will usually tell you whether the rifle will be a decent shooter. Interesting to note .. Rifle # 2 with a ME of 1.5 does not shoot quite as well as rifle #1 with a ME of 2.5. Rifle # 1 (the Remington) does have a true "mint" bore ...

    These are solidly built rifles which, if equipped with a barrel still in very good to excellent condition, can shoot as good as any US Springfield or Garand. Three of the four rifles shown (the top 3) will shoot under 4 inches at 100 yards consistently with most 5 shot groups being in the 2 1/2 inch to 3 inch range. The Remington made rifle shown at the top of the photo will shoot under 2 inches pretty consistently with my handloads. (46 grains of IMR 4064 with the 168 grain Hornady match bullet) For more info on the US 1917 Enfield check out the pdf file at the link below ..

    http://www.odcmp.org/503/rifle.pdf

    Bob
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    Really Senior Member Salt Flat's Avatar
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    Bob. You are so right about these getting harder to find with a good bore or even an uncut barrel. I found a pretty good one recently but the stock was cut down. It is parkerized and that isn't the best looking finish on these. I like your collection! Salt Flat

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    Member Bob01605's Avatar
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    Hi Salt Flat,

    I have found, and most already know this, but MANY US 1917 Enfields were sporterized. I was told that during the depression (1929 - late 1930's) people didn't have a lot of $$$ and the US 1917 rifles could be had for $20 or there abouts - SO - many were sporterized and used as hunting rifles. If you go up on Gunbroker and other websites that sell guns, you can find maybe 50 Garands or maybe 20 1903A3's for every ONE ORIGINAL US 1917 Enfield AND the chance of a good to very good bore on that rifle is maybe 50-50. Over the last 15 years or so since I've had my C&R license, I have passed on quite a few 1917's because either they weren't original or they had a crappy bore. Understand that I am a hobby shooter of old military rifles and not a collector. Three of my rifles have a few parts that don't match and I don't really care about that. I do care that the bore is in reasonably good shape and the rifle is totally original.

    Bob

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    Really Senior Member jamie5070's Avatar
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    Of the adds for surplus rifles for sale that I have seen or people have posted on line, The 1917s always cost more than the 1903s. My first hunting rifle was (still have it) a spoterized eddystone that shoots great. My impression is that the '50s and '60s were the hayday of sporterizing military rifles. I haven't seen a nice 1917 at any of my local stores in years. The 1917s are my favorites of all my different milsurps.
    john

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    Member Detmer's Avatar
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    What a great bunch of rifles. I only have one and I love it.

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    Senior Member jakester's Avatar
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    Hi Bob

    A small correction to an otherwise excellent post. The very last bunch of Eddystones to come off the line were factory parkerized. Mine is serial # 1252168, barrel date 11-18. The switch over was sometime around Oct. or Nov. of '18. Chuck in Denver probably knows the exact date. Mine has a small assortment of handling dings, but is otherwise near mint with perfect barrel. I'm guessing it somehow escaped being issued.
    Last edited by jakester; 09-23-2014 at 04:16 AM.

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    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Nice looking collection, I had an M1917 come past me a few years ago complete with bayonet but didn't keep it. My mistake. Now there are none to be had.
    Regards, Jim

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    Contributing Member WarPig1976's Avatar
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    Jake, I have #1252468 same condition as yours, waited years for an Eddystone in this condition, tis the pride of my accumulation.
    Too bad yours didn't come from one of the crates found under the floor of Eddystone when they were demolishing the buildings,,,or DID it?..
    That's the story I got from the guy a bought it from...

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    Contributing Member WarPig1976's Avatar
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    Really Senior Member RC20's Avatar
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    To Embellish a Brit (grin)

    Rifling: The rifling was simply using the same setup as the Pattern 14 in 303 for the groves (5) and the left hand twist (more or less the Brits felt that was the best rifling combination) though it was definitely changed dimensionally to match the .308 dimension for the 30 caliber rather than the .311 for the 303.
    The US goal being as few changes as possible so they could make the massive numbers required for WWI

    The Brits had done serious looking into rifling as the Pattern 13 (.276 caliber) was intended to at least match the Mausers for range and accuracy vs the SMLE that it was supposed to replace (fighting the last War, i.e. Boer War). The SMLE turned out to be a good setup for them WWI (a lot having to do with their not adapting machine guns on a large enough scale until latter in WWI)

    Hatcher I think it was said that the 1917 barrel was a bit tighter barrel due to the relationship of 5 groves vs the standard (at the time) of 4 in the 1903s. Barrel also lasted somewhat longer. I take that on faith.

    I have a WWII JA barreled 1917 and it has two grove right hand twist (again their machinery was setup for that so they went with it)

    One aspect I have found that my brother cleared up for me, in checked the start of the rifling the 1917, it is much sooner on a 1917 than a 1903 (for any given bullet, they all have different ogives shape so the actual engaging dimension is different).

    What he cleared up was the rifling start is actually the same, it’s just that the 1917 is abrupt and the 1903 has a taper. Differnet take on the same desire for accuracy. Both work very well.

    The JA WWII barrel match's a 1903 rifling profile which makes sense as they were turnout out on the same machinery as the 1903s and the Britishicon design would have fallen by the wayside.

    What I found was that the COAL for good accuracy was considerably diffident between the two, i.e. the WWI 1917 barrels were quite a bit shorter COAL than the 1903 barrels (including very new barrels so its not a wear aspect). Most of my 1917s are in the 2 area TE and 1.5 to 2.5 MW so still relatively new.

    I use a Hornady bullet COAL checker to establish where the bullet hits the lands and hold back .030 for both of them. I don't think it makes huge difference in .005 either way, but it defiantly made a difference in accuracy by doing so on the 1917 (I am still working on my 1903 Sporter, I can shoot it better as it has a scope and the iron sights on the 1917 are harder with old eyes.

    I am getting 1 to 1.5 inch groups with a couple of mine at 75 yds (the furthest I can get a black ball out and still get a consistent sight picture to shoot at). With good eyes and handloads I think you could approach 1 inch at 100 yds with a good 1917.

    I am using 4350 powder as I have a decent supply of that and its proven to be good in the 1917s. Slower speed seems to work fine so I am in the 50 gr area. 49.5 is still getting a bit of smoke on the necks so I think 50 or 50.5 would be better.

    I do have a spare 1917 bare barreled action if anyone is interested (PM me) . Someone did a civilian re-barel of a Remington barrel onto an Eddystone receiver (thread cut off). It comes with a bare bolt that has the right headspace. TE and MW are right at 1, so its potentially a good shooter though not a collector.

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