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Thread: Concerned: Will disassembling damage my rifle?

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  1. #1
    Member Renard's Avatar
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    Question Concerned: Will disassembling damage my rifle?

    Hello all,

    I am new member here on milsurps.com and I have a concern that I would like to ask all other Lee-Enfield enthusiasts and professionals.

    So a quick background about myself, I am a first time firearms owner and I am currently in the process of acquiring a 1948 Ishapore SMLE No. 1 Mk. 3*. I have done some extensive research when it comes to handling and care for a Lee-Enfield but a concern that I wanted to ask everyone here was if it is possible to damage my Lee-Enfield (especially that of an SMLE) by disassembling and reassembling it back? What I am hoping to do is to clean it up and maybe someday replacing the wood stock (there's some damage on the stock, I was suggested by my seller to consider replacing it one day) but I am concerned that if I do take it apart, there is a chance that I may render it inoperable or cause some sort of damage.

    Please forgive me if the question sounds ridiculous, I am new to these rifles and I have been looking up this issue for some time and have read some owners not recommending disassembly while others insist upon it. I wanted to make sure I didn't do anything that would make the rifle unsafe to use.
    Last edited by Renard; 09-22-2019 at 05:10 AM.

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  3. #2
    Member pisco's Avatar
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    hi every gun i get i strip and clean check for any damage and put back together

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  5. #3
    Really Senior Member Roy's Avatar
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    Good of you to ask, Yes, if improperly disassembled you can seriously damage your rifle. I'll not go in to it here but there are step by step by step guides and techniques. I'd recommend Skennertons very inexpensive Small Arms Identification booklet on the SMLE as well as the Youtube channel "Anvil" by C&Rsenal for vintage rifle care techniques.

    Keep Calm
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    Roger Payne's Avatar
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    Hi. Don't feel awkward about asking anything - we all started at some time! You can damage a SMLE by stripping it, but ONLY IF YOU DO IT IN THE WRONG ORDER. Most SMLE's have a little steel U shaped keeper plate inserted into the rear face of the fore end. The notch of the U in this little plate stops the butt stock bolt from working loose. (The tip of the thread on the stock bolt is squared off to locate into the notch/recess). Consequently, it is important when stripping that you REMOVE THE FORE END FIRST, BEFORE YOU ATTEMPT TO REMOVE THE BUTT. (I'm not shouting at you here, just trying to add emphasis!). Having said that, to complicate things, the Indians simplified this procedure on later fore ends, by substituting a broad steel plate that has two D shaped projections on to the rear side of the fore end at its very back (the same as on a fore end on the No4 Mk1 & 1* rifles), so if your rifle has this later modification, then what I have said above doesn't matter.

    An early fore end (where it matters) will have the ends of a thin brass headless screw visible at the back of the fore end on each side. A late one (where order is less important) will have the two rather bigger D shaped 'tabs' visible in the same place, each side. No doubt somebody may have photo's to hand to illustrate this better than I.

    There's obviously more involved to stripping the rifle, but you'll find good suggestions in most of the standard texts, as well as from people on here. However, the above is crucial to get right, as trying to remove the butt first on a rifle with the U shaped keeper will probably not only damage the keeper plate, but will also force the two sides of the rear of the fore end apart causing it to split. You really don't want that....!
    Last edited by Roger Payne; 09-22-2019 at 06:59 AM. Reason: typo

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    I would highly recommend "A Collector's Guide to Military Rifles, Disassembly and Reassembly" by Stuart C Mowbray & Joe Puleo (ISBN 1931464-32-4) It is not cheap but gives full and pictorial description of the processes involved in stripping and reassembling up to 48 rifles including the Enfields. It might seem a little excessive but once you start collecting military rifles especially the Enfield family it can very easily take over your life so be warned...

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    Member Cottage Hill Bill's Avatar
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    As important as knowing the order of disassembly is having the right tools. Buy a set of hollow ground screwdrivers or driver bits. The Chapman Manufacturing Co. set number 9600 is a basic gunship set that has all the bits needed for Enfields and is reasonably priced. Good company to deal with. Look up the difference between hollow ground and regular screwdriver blades. The right tools will keep you from deforming the screw heads.

  9. Thank You to Cottage Hill Bill For This Useful Post:


  10. #7
    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Agree with these guys so far, I also strip and clean and inspect my firearms when they come in. Only thing some might disagree with is you may remove history of the firearm by doing that, but it's yours so get on with it...
    Regards, Jim

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    Really Senior Member Bruce_in_Oz's Avatar
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    A couple of caveats;

    First, read everything posted hereabouts by Peter Laidlericon.

    Overall: NEVER attempt to remove the butt first ALWAYS remove the fore-end and hand-guards first, Thus, the following.

    Read everything you can handle and have a printed copy of the procedures and warnings in front of you as you strip it down. Ring-binders with plastic page sleeves for the printed instructions are a boon.

    There is probably no telling when your new rifle last saw the inside of a real armourers workshop, so:

    If you suspect or can see rust on the metalwork, especially where it contacts the stock, or dark staining on the inner edges of the woodwork, this may indicate more hidden corrosion. Preventative action may be required by the new owner.

    In military service this complete strip and inspection was supposed to be done annually, whether the rifle had been out in the field or simply lounging about in an armoury. That way, any rust, timber decay, splits, cracks, etc would be picked up by the eagle-eyed gun-plumbers. Once a service rifle "retires" and leads a more leisurely life, this is not generally necessary.

    HOWEVER if you get it really wet, say one of those canoeing accidents or, much worse, drop it in the surf, it will need a thorough strip and restorative treatment.

    FIRST: Check safe and ensure the rifle and magazine are clear of all ammunition. NO LIVE AMMO anywhere near the workbench, ever!

    Screws: The Chapman tools are good. If you have some skill and equipment (and a pile of spare screwdrivers) you can custom-grind your own to fit the various screw slots.

    Beware; the screw in the outer band, (the one holding on the front sling swivel), is usually "staked" at the threaded end to prevent loosening. If you go all Bubba and just wind it out, the bulged, "staked" end will tear up the thread in the band. These screws are available as a "spare", but if you do the minimum "drilling out", you can use a "medium" Loctite to retain it after reassembly.

    Remember, the butt comes off LAST, NEVER first. For many more details, read the instructions posted here by some very experienced folk.

    Have fun, and welcome to the wonderful world of Lee Enfields! Be careful; once you have a couple of them in the gun safe, they seem to breed like rabbits!

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  13. #9
    Contributing Member Micheal Doyne's Avatar
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    Personally (assuming you are keen on shooting it) I would take it to reputable gunsmith and have them check it over (I like Fultonís at bisley) and see if it is ok to shoot, it is a modest fee and worth the peace of mind in my (extremely) humble opinion. If it is good take it to the zero range and see how it shoots. If thing are good my feeling would be donít disturb the bedding, and leave it be. Or if you arenít happy and you do need to tinker with it at least you know where the base state was.
    Last edited by Micheal Doyne; 09-23-2019 at 11:10 PM.

  14. #10
    Really Senior Member Alan de Enfield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Micheal Doyne View Post
    If thing are good my feeling would be don’t disturb the bedding,

    I can never understand this desire to take something apart when it is functioning as it should - maybe its just me ?
    Mine are not the best, but they are not too bad. I can think of lots of Enfields I'd rather have but instead of constantly striving for more, sometimes it's good to be satisfied with what one has...

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