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

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  1. #31
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    As your in the land of the free and want to shoot, then the worlds your oyster, there are plenty of examples that show up on here what folk have purchased, even Sniper variations are still or seemed a very good deal on that side of the pond.



    Myself I love the .22 trainers, also have a few Sniper variants, but the .22's get the most use, my days of lying on a soaked firing point, wet, frozen to the bone are long over unless its a TA weekend.

    You should be able to find good examples of a SMLE and a No4 for range work. The No5 ( junge carbine) wasn't really made for range work so I'd avoid one unless you do start collecting.

    As mentioned a pull through and a bore gauge are very handy when examining a rifle, wouldn't worry about the gauge to be honest, use a .303 round or just the bullet, and pop it in the top of the bore if it sinks to the case then its a scrap, (there should be something on this site showing how far a round should protrude from the barrel, also check the crown whilst doing this look down both ends of the barrel, look for crisp clean rifling (sharp edges) if there rounded and over shiny then a good sign it may be on its last.

    If the rifle is in excellent condition then you may find a dark bore , don't let this put you off as it may be a nearly new barrel or a rifle that has little use ( the most accurate rifles I've had were excellent condition, a P17 (M1917) in .3006 that had a very dark bore, but rifling was crisp and sharp, same with a No4 Mk1 that had been FTR'd, this had had a new barrel on during its FTR, dark bore again but so accurate.

    An FTR No4 would be the choice for me for a shooter.

    I wont go into the depths of the woodwork but check for loose, cracked etc or if it looks a lot newer to the rest of the rifle, there will be play in the barrel if you hold the rifle secure on the fore-end and the forward hand guard, on a No4.

    Check the number on the bolt head too, on a No4 you should find it between 0-3, although not always a good indicator of wear, as it may of been honed to suit etc.

    Just a few pointers above,.

    I've always found the best deals are from dealers who mainly deal in Sporting rifles etc, they may get a trade in now and again will most likely want to move it on. If you do find something and not sure on, a few good quality pictures posted on here will get you an answer.

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  4. #32
    Advisory Panel Brian Dick's Avatar
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    Here's my two cents having looked at one or two Lees including quite a few Ethiopian owned "gems" from the infamous RTI, (just received another today, ugh!). I don't own a bore scope and probably never will. They are nice if you're a precision rifle shooter to see rust, carbon buildup, copper fouling, erosion in the throat, bore and muzzle. In my humble opinion, you're better off and it's probably a lot cheaper to buy or make correct gauges to check barrels instead because if the barrel passes, has decent rifling and headspace is good, chances are it'll perform just fine. Most reasonable dealers will have no problem if you pull them out and ask to check a barrel at a show or shop. It only takes a couple of minutes to do it. If they do have a problem, motor on. You can't hurt the rifle by doing it correctly with a bit of knowledge to back you up. Some dealers might even appreciate the learning experience, especially here in the USAicon where many if not most are clueless when it comes to Lees. Below are the simple gauging standards that were standardized during WWII. Call me simple or a grumpy old curmudgeon armorer if you want. It matters not to me but I hear so much over complicated crap gleaned from so-called "experts" on the internet that it makes me kind of, well..... tired. I'm certainly no expert. That's a fact. I just have the correct tools and more years of, (mostly long distance), instruction gleaned from folks I truly consider experts than I care to admit. You can make this stuff as difficult as you want and to be honest, it's a huge waste of energy and money that would be better spent on ammo and components if you're a reloader and like to shoot. Learn how to assemble bolts and carefully fit forends properly. You can have the cleanest, sharpest, most expensive Lothar Walther or CBI barrel on your rifle to over tight SAAMI specs which are useless when it comes to Lees and if these other things aren't in spec, you're wasting your money. P.L's articles are here for all to see and though his writings are more about the No.4 and No.5, they really encompass the SMLE too in all of it's guises. Read them three times and dive in if you're so inclined. That is key. Oh yeah, stop insisting on shooting boat tail projectiles in well worn but in spec barrels. We've all discussed what cordite does to the throats ad nauseum and it doesn't take much. You might be amazed that your groups will tighten up by half not to mention the flat base projectiles are probably cheaper.

    Muzzle - .307 should not enter more than .25"
    Throat - .310 should not enter more than .25"
    Bore - .301 MUST run
    Headspace - bolt must close on .064
    bolt must NOT close on .074

    Oh yeah, Do NOT over headspace these rifles. Leave the very small supply of long bolt heads for rifles that truly need them. I need one now for the rifle that just arrived and may not be able to get it in spec because I can't find any anywhere!

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  7. #33
    Member Pedantic_Potato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ssgross View Post
    As far as quality goes, it's like taking pictures with a modern cellphone versus a phone camera from 20 years ago. Of course the Hawkeye is like sticking your eyeball in the bore.
    I just checked Brownells and the Hawkeyes have fallen to well under $1k. Lyman's website only shows the "Pro Wifi" model right now for well over $300. Funny what competition does.
    Last sentence got another chuckle from me, it does indeed to some magical things. I figure $150 (at most) for a bore scope that can be used on cars, rifles, and all manner of other random things is a good investment no matter what because its a solid tool that doesn't break the bank while yielding solid benefits.

    Quote Originally Posted by Surpmil View Post
    If your eyes are good, a decent borelight is probably all you need. Occasionally I've had to ask a shop to run a brush through a rifle, and they usually will without complaint, but would depend on the shop. Maybe a pull through a few 4x2s in a baggy is worth carrying?
    I can see the utility in those items as a quick and dirty way to assess a surplus rifle on a gun shop rack. I'll hit a rifle I'm particularly interested in with a bore scope as a "confirmation" so as to not waste a gun shop's time unnecessarily. Any recommendations/advice for a bore light?

    Quote Originally Posted by Surpmil View Post
    Since you sound like a "practical rifle" shooter, a really well refurbished No4 might be a good place to start; that is one with an excellent bore which someone has restored or "tidied up" for whatever reason.
    That has crossed my mind in the past, FTR or privately refurbished. I will keep an eye out for rifles like that. Question though, would the refurbish just apply to the metalwork/bore or would it also apply to woodwork/bedding? Or put another way, do people just refurbish the metal work or do they also do the wood work to a similar standard (instead of just slapping some "new" wood on the gun and calling it "refurbished")?

    Quote Originally Posted by bigduke6 View Post
    You should be able to find good examples of a SMLE and a No4 for range work. The No5 ( junge carbine) wasn't really made for range work so I'd avoid one unless you do start collecting.
    I plan on getting a No. 5 for collector sake since, at this point, I have not found any documentation or primary sources describing a set of Musketry regulations or trainings for the No. 5 specifically. When/if I shoot a No. 5 it'd be solidly within 300 yards and based off its use in Malaya.

    Quote Originally Posted by bigduke6 View Post
    If the rifle is in excellent condition then you may find a dark bore , don't let this put you off as it may be a nearly new barrel or a rifle that has little use ( the most accurate rifles I've had were excellent condition, a P17 (M1917) in .3006 that had a very dark bore, but rifling was crisp and sharp, same with a No4 Mk1 that had been FTR'd, this had had a new barrel on during its FTR, dark bore again but so accurate.
    I reason that a bore scope's good for confirming the state of the rifling throughout the whole barrel, throat, and chamber with a high degree of certainty. I will keep my eye out for a No. 4.

    Quote Originally Posted by bigduke6 View Post
    I've always found the best deals are from dealers who mainly deal in Sporting rifles etc, they may get a trade in now and again will most likely want to move it on. If you do find something and not sure on, a few good quality pictures posted on here will get you an answer.
    I am realizing more and more the fact that I should have been posting my random questions here for the past year and a half, but hesitation has stayed my fingers on the old keyed dexterity trampoline. Not anymore!
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Dickicon View Post
    you're better off and it's probably a lot cheaper to buy or make correct gauges to check barrels instead because if the barrel passes, has decent rifling and headspace is good, chances are it'll perform just fine.
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Dick View Post
    you're better off and it's probably a lot cheaper to buy or make correct gauges to check barrels instead because if the barrel passes, has decent rifling and headspace is good, chances are it'll perform just fine.
    Thank you for those insights, Brian Dick. Forgive me if my question is naive, but I am a not at all versed when it comes to gauges and whatnot: are these gauges commercially available or period military issue? Moreover, do you have a recommended source for the gauges?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Dick View Post
    Learn how to assemble bolts and carefully fit forends properly.
    I'll have to read up about this as well.
    Zeke H.
    "Gentlemen, this is a story that you will tell your grandchildren, and mightily bored they'll be!" - Sir Brian Horrocks, 1944.

  8. #34
    Advisory Panel Brian Dick's Avatar
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    The gauges I use are original military gauges except for one set of excellent headspace gauges that I kept from Graham at Arrowmark Tool and Gauge in Australiaicon. I carried them as inventory here until he stopped producing them many years ago. You can easily make or have made a .310, .307 and .301. I'm told Forster has some custom made .074 No-Go headspace gauges available. Call them and ask for Scott. The .064 Go gauge is standard SAAMI also.

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    Contributing Member 30Three's Avatar
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    Pedantic Potato,. Lot's of sound advice here; and it seems that you are already on the right track by asking and learning prior to purchase.
    Regarding a borescope, for a reasonable quality image that will give you a good enough idea of bore condition; there are very cheap ones available in 5.5mm diameter that are USB plug in to Laptop or smart phone.
    I have a couple of these; I got a 1 metre 5.5mm dia USB borescope for 7 Euro's, thats about 10 dollars.
    It's good enough for occasional use and ideal for a gun show when plugged into a smart phone. However these cheap ones do need to be handled carefully as they are not heavy duty
    With the money saved you can add to your rifle fund. The bullet to check the muzzle and headspace gauges are also worthwhile

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  12. #36
    Contributing Member ssgross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Dickicon View Post
    I just have the correct tools and more years of, (mostly long distance), instruction gleaned from folks I truly consider experts than I care to admit. You can make this stuff as difficult as you want and to be honest, it's a huge waste of energy and money that would be better spent on ammo and components if you're a reloader and like to shoot. Learn how to assemble bolts and carefully fit forends properly. You can have the cleanest, sharpest, most expensive Lothar Walther or CBI barrel on your rifle to over tight SAAMI specs which are useless when it comes to Lees and if these other things aren't in spec, you're wasting your money.
    I normally don't ever argue with experience (..I'm not now..read on) - and especially if I don't have it. I will say in agreement that having a scope has made me worry more than I need to when it comes to tired old milsurps because of exactly what Brian says - then again I have read enough to know better, always been interested in learning to do the things you speak of - proper stock fitting etc. After reading and re-reading many of P.L.'s great articles I've salvaged two enfields I adore - mostly because of the satisfaction I gained from learning to do it right (here), and then doing it. They wouldn't be worth much to anyone else. The years of experience and advice presented here is what drew me to this forum, and the cordiality and collegiality of its presentation and members is why I stay.

    By way of an analogy about experience, I had my whole house painted a few years ago, and had an electrician update all the electrical sockets and light switches to new fancy ones. I asked if he wanted me to lead him to the breaker box...he said know he didn't need it, and did the whole house with hot wires. Certain skills can only be learned by years of experience, and often years worth of hard lessons. The rest of us usually resort to what could be called crutches as we learn. I'm comfortable doing most of my own small electrical tasks, but I absolutely turn off the breaker, and have bought a good reliable multimeter to double check (those cost more than the bore scopes we were talking about)

    I like the instant gratification I get with a cheap scope telling me all is still well, I did my part right and good when cleaning, or that a previous owner left a rifle unusable. When I was a noob (arguably still am), having a cheap scope kept me from over cleaning my rifles, the money-pit of more and more new fangled harsh chemicals, or more harmful things. I had training wheels on my bike when I was a kid too.

    What number bolt head do you need Brian? I have a #2 I may not need - but would need some gauges to check and be sure. I'm only half sarcastic. Seriously though, the "target" Mk 2 I posted about after Christmas has a #2 on it I'd swap you for if I figure out I don't really need it.
    Last edited by ssgross; 01-04-2021 at 03:45 PM.

  13. #37
    Advisory Panel Brian Dick's Avatar
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    I worked in the electrical trade in my youth after my Army stint, (both construction and in the boat building business), and know well what it's like to get shocked. I don't wire anything hot if possible. Getting shocked when you don't have to is just dumb in my humble opinion!

    Thanks for your offer. I sat here at my desk with my drawer full and tried them until I found one that is in specification for overturn, cocking piece lift, bolt lift and headspace. It's also a #2 but appears unfitted. Perfect. I know y'all realize by now that the number stamped on them means nothing, especially if it's been previously fitted. Buying one bolthead is a total crap shoot. That's why I never sell them as parts. If it overturns more than 1/8", it's out of spec.. That's the first thing to check long before you get the headspace gauges out. That being said, anyone who wants to divest himself of their spare long boltheads give me a shout. I'll buy, measure and secure them accordingly for the next project. When I run out of them, I'll be screwed as far as getting rifles back in specification. I always struggle to find longer ones these days. I've been successful so far bringing many tired old girls back to the ranges so far. I'll continue to try to the best of my ability.

    I had a precision rifle shooter offer to come and inspect L42A1 rifles with a 20x bore scope many years ago when I still had several here. I passed on that because I knew what the throats were going to look like. The plug gauge doesn't lie. The good part is that the throat erosion of all was still in spec., (some barely), and the rifles would ALL still shoot moa at 100 yards with my male pattern blindness on the test range!

    Peter L set up with me in 2015 at the SAR East show in Harrisburg, PA. A guy came by towards the end of the show and started plugging a cartridge he pulled out of his pocket in the muzzles of a rack of very nice No.4's and SMLE's. I wish I'd had a camera to record the look on Peter's face when he saw this. He was dumbfounded to say the least and it was priceless. The guy with the cartridge was oblivious and the funny part is that if he'd been good enough to ask, I would have got out the real MoD plug gauges and showed him. Oh well, he was just killing time and had no intention of buying a rifle anyhow. I could write a book about the stuff I've seen at shows. I wonder if anyone would buy it? Come to think of it, probably not!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Dickicon View Post
    I could write a book about the stuff I've seen at shows.
    We could probably write a counter book about the things we've seen too...
    Regards, Jim

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Dickicon View Post
    Muzzle - .307 should not enter more than .25"
    Throat - .310 should not enter more than .25"
    Bore - .301 MUST run
    Headspace - bolt must close on .064
    bolt must NOT close on .074
    Please forgive my unfamiliarity with the subject once again, but are the the muzzle, throat, and bore gauged with three separate tools or one single one (where might I go to have them made (i.e. type of specialist)?)? Are those all the "plug gauges" you're referring to in subsequent posts?

    The headspace gauges I know are separate ones for each measurement (go, no-go, field).

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Dick View Post
    I could write a book about the stuff I've seen at shows. I wonder if anyone would buy it? Come to think of it, probably not!
    If it would help in learning what not to do and consequently expand knowledge, then I for one would be a appreciative reader...

    Quote Originally Posted by ssgross View Post
    I like the instant gratification I get with a cheap scope telling me all is still well, I did my part right and good when cleaning, or that a previous owner left a rifle unusable. When I was a noob (arguably still am), having a cheap scope kept me from over cleaning my rifles, the money-pit of more and more new fangled harsh chemicals, or more harmful things. I had training wheels on my bike when I was a kid too.
    I'll use the bore scope for other things and I'm new to this game so any and all data is probably well worth my time gathering.
    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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    Contributing Member ssgross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pedantic_Potato View Post
    I'll use the bore scope for other things
    Don't use it as a multimeter, and not for your kids' training wheels either.

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