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Thread: Collecting Tips for Lee-Enfields (No. 1 Mk. III/*s, No. 4s, No. 5s)

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  1. #1
    Member Pedantic_Potato's Avatar
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    Collecting Tips for Lee-Enfields (No. 1 Mk. III/*s, No. 4s, No. 5s)

    Happy New Year!

    I had a thought today to reach out to these forums to see what general tips everyone may have for a new Lee-Enfield collector that is also a novice to military surplus firearm collecting.

    While I am not currently in a position to begin seriously looking out for one or more Lee-Enfields to collect (namely because I haven't finished Ian Skennertonicon's book due to the free time-sucking black holes of work and school), I think I have enough of an idea of what I may want to pose the above question. That said, I've taken an interest in wanting to practice with and complete the various range courses associated with the two World Wars (seen on Britishicon Muzzleloaders), so the primary parameters that I would use to begin searching for a Lee-Enfield (which could be any or all of these: No. 1 Mk. III/*, No. 4 Mk. I/II, No. 5) are that the rifle(s) has strong rifling, a good stock bedding, and functional sights.

    Any tips or advice on those parameters? Any questions I should pose to sellers that are particularly targeted/focused? Am I barking up the wrong tree in looking for rifles that will be accurate at long range?



    Any answers or discussions are much appreciated.
    Zeke H.
    "Gentlemen, this is a story that you will tell your grandchildren, and mightily bored they'll be!" - Sir Brian Horrocks, 1944.

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    Really Senior Member Alan de Enfield's Avatar
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    Two things to remember are :

    1) These rifles breed rapidly so before you start ensure you have room for a dozen and sufficient cash to buy them. You will develop psycological problems and have terrible withdrawl symptoms if you do not buy at least one per month.
    Don't believe all you read - a heroin adiction is mild by comparison

    2) These rifles were 'minute of man'. If you are expecting 1 MOA then look elsewhere.
    The accuracy requirements for the various models were :
    No1 = 9 out of 10 shots in a 2 foot circle at 600 yards
    No4 = 6 out of 7 shots in an 18" x 18" rectangle at 600 yards
    No5 = 10 out of 10 shots in a 36" x 36" rectangle at 600 yards
    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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    Really Senior Member Daan Kemp's Avatar
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    Lee Enfields are battle rifles, used incidentally for target shooting. Very few long range shots, although sights were so marked owing to pre 1900 thinking of volley fire. Expect about 3" groups at 100 yards if the ammunition is good and your hold is good.

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    Really Senior Member RobD's Avatar
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    Here are my tips, based on avoiding disappointments I have observed in others, or have experienced myself:
    1. If buying to shoot, the condition of the bore beats all other considerations. This means if possible using a bore scope and/or bore gauges, not just a squint down the bore. Rebarreling is very expensive.
    2. If at all possible, try the rifle on the range at 100-200 yds before buying OR buy it with a target which the rifle has shot at those ranges.
    3. Don't try to make a sniper out of a rifle UNLESS it is uncannily accurate in your hands. A scope doesn't make the rifle any more accurate, it just makes the target look bigger.
    4. Don't buy a sporterised rifle with the intention of putting it back to military spec UNTIL you have sourced the set of woodwork you need.
    I'm sure others will have tips.
    Rob

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    Contributing Member Eaglelord17's Avatar
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    This is a big concern in Canadaicon with the amount of 'restored' rifles in circulation (people just slapping wood on the rifle), don't buy any No. 1 Mk. 3 or Mk. 3* if the nose cap isn't matching. Thats a good sign that it potentially has been restored, and I just find it isn't worth your time as a collector. US market might be different as I don't think it has the same cottage industry that appeared a couple years ago to 'restore' them (i.e. cheaper to buy a sporterized rifle and throw some wood on it than to buy a original rifle) but in Canada thats a huge concern.

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    Member Pedantic_Potato's Avatar
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    Thank you all for those responses and answers!

    Alan de Enfield: Considering that the 1908 and 1942 Musketry have targets (first-class, six foot) out to just 600 yards (in following that accuracy standard), I think those standards are entirely acceptable for my purposes. The trouble is going to be finding ones that aren't shot out to the point where those standards don't matter. Thanks for those numbers!

    Daan Kemp: I don't plan on taking the rifles past 600 yards since those fall outside of the ranges for the Musketry trainings, but I will keep those numbers in mind as a basis when reviewing rifles.

    RobD: With those tips in mind, would you recommend looking online at all, or might it be better sticking to local gun stores after calling them to see if they have a rifles on consignment? I've never seen anyone on, say, GunBroker post a photo of a target of what the rifle they're selling shoots. In you experience, how often does a seller actually go through with one's request to provide a target with group size? I've gotten tips to get a bore scope in the past so I will reconsider that purchase considering its utility.

    Eaglelord17: I saw quite a few rifles on GunBroker that looked suspiciously clean in the woodwork and worn in the metal fittings, so I suspect the "restoring" concern may hold true in the USAicon, but I didn't check the nose cap for matching numbers (not that people take photos of all the numbers on the gun anyway).

    Just a random question for the whole thread, is there a way to test the quality of the stock bedding without taking the action out of the stock?
    Zeke H.
    "Gentlemen, this is a story that you will tell your grandchildren, and mightily bored they'll be!" - Sir Brian Horrocks, 1944.

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    Really Senior Member RobD's Avatar
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    IMHO, buying an old rifle online is a recipe for disappointment.
    I'd suggest two sources:
    1. Depending on where you live, there are a handful of forummers who deal in .303s and they may have in stock, or could look out for .what you are after. They may be willing to send you a photo of a 10 shot group.
    2. I am impressed by the number of excellent and affordable rifles which forummers have picked up at their local gun stores.

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    Member Pedantic_Potato's Avatar
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    Judging from the quality of many listings on online sites, I am inclined to agree even with my limited experience of just perusing. Even the big USAicon auction companies stress the need to physically handle the rifle you intend to bid on before the auction starts. Too bad Rock Island Auction is on the opposite coast from me in Washington State.

    Quote Originally Posted by RobD View Post
    1. Depending on where you live, there are a handful of forummers who deal in .303s and they may have in stock, or could look out for .what you are after. They may be willing to send you a photo of a 10 shot group.
    2. I am impressed by the number of excellent and affordable rifles which forummers have picked up at their local gun stores.
    I will have to narrow down my interests in rifles then and keep looking through the forums here as a good start. Where do these forummers you speak of frequent on this site? With regards to your second point, I have a couple friends that have gotten particularly lucky with rifles from local pawn shops and gun stores. I guess it just takes patience and time to get that ideal opportunity.
    Zeke H.
    "Gentlemen, this is a story that you will tell your grandchildren, and mightily bored they'll be!" - Sir Brian Horrocks, 1944.

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    Really Senior Member HOOKED ON HISTORY's Avatar
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    My advice?
    By every complete unmolested Enfield you can purchase at a reasonable price. You will never regret it. If you do not mind losing a few $ and like to tinker buy a couple of restorable "sporters" and return to original after hunting up the missing bits. Lots of good info here RE: stock fitting etc....
    Happy hunting.

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