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  1. #1
    Member Spuddler's Avatar
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    Pawn Shop Alex. Martin

    Picked up an Alex Martin Enfield or Metford carbine (anyone able to confirm) at the local pawn shop. Gorgeous rifle, but it is a heart breaker in that someone machined off the rear sight and installed a dovetail. Outside of the rear sight, a missing magazine cutoff and missing sling swivels it is in awesome condition. Bore is immaculate.

    Does anyone know if spare parts for the rear sight are available - much less know what the sight is supposed to look like? It isn't sleeved like a typical military rifle - it is brazed or welded into place like an sporting island sight. Also, I would love any information on Alex Martin - was this a commercial rifle or a remarketed military carbine? Any information anyone might have is appreciated.
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  3. #2
    Contributing Member smle addict's Avatar
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    Very nice purchase! Being as it has volley sights on the forend, it most likely was a rifle. If you look down the barrel, count the rifling; if its 5-groove, its enfield. If its 7-groove, its a metford.

    Unfortunately, if it was a rifle, then the barrel has been cut down and had some non-enfield front sight installed. A full length barrel is near impossible to source, as is the forend.

    I would do the minimum to restore it, and shoot it.

    If you like, I have a shot-out martini-metford barrel that I scavenged the front sight off of. It still has the rear sight base intact. Its yours if you want it, and you can scavenge the rear sight. PM me if interested.

    Nice save!

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  5. #3
    Senior Member Jc5's Avatar
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    This is was a commercial (ie., made for civilian sale) target rifle, manufactured by the Birmingham Small Arms Company, then sold by Alex Martin, a well-respected rifle maker. It is possible that Alex Martin put their own barrel on it (the barrel has their mark); they certainly sighted and tested it and sold it with their guarantee. Many competitive target shooters purchased these from Alex Martin. It most likely had an aftermarket target sight on it at one time---sights that are easy to find but fairly expensive. Your rifle was made purposely for civilian sale and it was not a conversion from a government rifle, although it was made and inspected (viewed) to conform to government specs. There is no doubt that your rifle was used in competition, possibly even at Bisley. That is only reason someone would buy a rifle in this configuration from Alex Martin. This is the original barrel, which is nice, but it has, unfortunately, been cut down by some owner, probably many years later.

    Restoration to 100% correct specs is near impossible. There are not a lot of spare Alex Martin barrels out there. But you could get it nearly correct..."there are two paths you can go by..." but neither option is cheap or easy...

    You could (given enough time and money) restore it to its Long Lee configuration by finding an original (or repro) fore-end and putting a full-length military (government) barrel on it (those are not abundant, but it's possible you could find one), and this configuration would look original. However, you are not going to find an original Alex Martin target barrel, so your restoration could never be 100% correct. And this would mean you would have to lose the cut-down barrel, which is original, with all its correct markings. You win some, you lose some. This is probably the route I would go, bit by bit...and get it refinished too, by an expert who knows how to apply a period-correct finish. Then find a period-correct target sight and put it on. And I'd hang on to the cut down barrel (don't toss it), because it is original, and is part of the story. All that will cost a lot of money and time, but you'd have a good-faith restoration that would look nice and probably shoot well. You would have restored it to its original configuration (near enough) and could use it as it was intended.

    The other route would be to make it a sporting rifle. You'd keep the existing barrel---assuming it shoots well now! If not, then you'd need a new barrel. Then replace the fore-end with a sporter fore-end---an original Lee-Speed fore-end if you can find one--most likely one from a Lee-Speed that is otherwise trashed, or pay someone to make you one. The reason you'd replace the fore-end is that a sporter should not have that volley sight or that barrel band. Then you want to do something with that front sight---replace it with a Lee-Speed type, then find a sporting rear sight--typically a folding leaf plus tanget arrangement. Again, these are hard but not impossible to find. There are newly made express sights that are not correct but would look decent enough. You would end up with a light, handy sporting rifle that would be great in the field and could be very handsome if you do it right.

    Neither of those options are ideal, but what you have now is a rifle that would be highly prized if its barrel had not been chopped. There are no easy options.

    For my research, I am interested in what this rifle looked like when it was new. Based only on what I can see in the photos above, and comparing to others that I have logged from BSA/Alex Martin, I estimate it was made circa 1903.

    1) Would you please post more pics of any markings on the barrel and action? I can only see one proof on the left side.
    2) Is there a number on the trigger guard (unlikely but worth checking)?
    3) Can you please lift the bolt handle and see if there is a number stamped on the top-rear flat part of the action (where the bolt slides in)?
    4) Is there a number stamped on the bolt handle, or underneath the cocking piece?

    If you are going to remove the wood for inspection and cleaning (and in the case of this particular rifle, I see no risk in doing so), I would love to see what markings Alex Henry put on the underside of that barrel. All these details are important to my study of these rifles. Thank you!

    BTW, if you got this at a pawn shop, I assume you got it cheap. If so, then it's bargain. The rifle has a great history, and I'd have snatched it up too!
    Last edited by Jc5; 09-30-2019 at 07:00 AM.
    .
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    Researching Lee Speeds and all commercial Lee Enfields. If you have data to share or questions, please send me a PM.

  6. #4
    Really Senior Member Hal O'Peridol's Avatar
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    Nice purchase! Which pawn shop did you pick it up at?

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    Member NORTHOF60's Avatar
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    If you are interested, this is what it would have looked like, complete:

    *B.S.A. Lee-Enfield Mark 1* Commercial .303

  8. #6
    Member Spuddler's Avatar
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    Thread Starter
    Wow - I thought this was a Hail Mary pass and you all have been amazing! It was a $200 pick (Ben's Loan in Renton, WA Hal O'Peridol), so I am a winner regardless. I have shot it a few times and can only say that it shoots consistently. I can group shots well enough together at the 50 yard range I can set up at my parents' house.

    I am adding a few additional photos I can pull off of the barrel. I would love to pull the stock and see what's stamped under the wood, but can't get it to budge (the fore end band is pinned (also pictured) and I am 'gun shy' about pulling screws willy nilly - though I have been able to get the trigger guard and magazine frame off - progress!). If you know how to walk me through disassembly I would appreciate any direction.

    I think a restoration is out of the cards - something about a non-original barrel just doesn't sit well with me. Plus, I think it is gorgeous as is - reminds me of a Greener Lee Speed carbine I once saw or an RIC Carbine - I just want to see a better rear sight than what it has. And it looks like 5-groove rifling to me, but to be honest it is hard to keep count...

    Northof60 - thanks for the images. I wound't have guessed it would have looked anything close to that.

  9. #7
    Member Spuddler's Avatar
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    Ben's Loan in Renton. They usually have WWII and post-WWII surplus, which I pass by, but I couldn't let this one go.

    ---------- Post added at 05:29 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:21 PM ----------

    Thanks SMLE Addict and Jc5! I figured the post was a Hail Mary, but got way more information that I expected. I don't think a 'restoration' is in the cards - I think it looks gorgeous as is, but that rear site is an eyesore. Lines remind me of a Greener Lee Speed carbine I saw on an auction site once, or an RIC carbine (and thanks for the link to the photos Northof60 - if you had asked me to guess what it had originally looked like I wouldn't have come close). I got around to weighing it and it surprised me coming in at 9.6 pounds! I have had other .30 caliber carbines that were 7-ish pounds. Must be a remnant of its target pedigree?

    So far as I can determine it has 5-groove rifling - honestly I keep losing count, but 7 seems excessive. I haven't dialed it in, but it groups well at the 50-yard range I can make up at my parents' house.

    ---------- Post added at 05:31 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:29 PM ----------

    I am trying to post more photos of the proof marks, but must be doing something wrong. I will keep trying. I tried to dismantle it further, and managed to get the trigger assembly and magazine frame off, but the barrel band at the volley site is pinned and I am 'gun-shy' about tackling screws and pins willy-nilly. If anyone can walk me through getting the stock off, I will see what lies underneath.

  10. #8
    Member Spuddler's Avatar
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    I think I figured out the attachments.
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  11. Thank You to Spuddler For This Useful Post:

    Jc5

  12. #9
    Member Spuddler's Avatar
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    Thread Starter
    Oops, failed to answer your questions Jc5:
    2. No number on the trigger guard
    3. No number on the action flat (assuming I am looking in the right place), but there is an H - photo attached.
    3. There is a number on the bolt handle - it is the same number as the action/barrel
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  13. Thank You to Spuddler For This Useful Post:

    Jc5

  14. #10
    Really Senior Member Hal O'Peridol's Avatar
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    I have purchased several rifles from Ben's over the years, they have a good selection and fair pricing, unlike most other shops in the Seattle area. Another good shop to go to is D&J in Bothel.


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