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  1. #1
    Member billy67's Avatar
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    No4 Savage bolt head question

    Hi,
    I have a Lee enfield no4 savage that looks unissued, unfired but the bolt head is no3 so I assume the rifle is not unissued, unfired ? lol
    In my knowledge, when a service rifle is issued from the factory for the first time, the bolt head should be no 0 ?

    thanks for your inputs !

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    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    This could be a rifle that has been completely refinished from an individual after restoring it. I did lots of them, they sure looked new after. Yes, #3 bolt head is at the far end of it's life... I knew a Canadianicon Ranger weapon storeman that used to put a higher number bolt head on rifles before issue to "Tighten them up a bit" without regard to their actual headspace requirement.

    Pics might help?
    Regards, Jim

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    Really Senior Member Alan de Enfield's Avatar
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    The highest number that could be used by the factory was a number 1.

    One of Peter's epistles on the subject :

    There is a little more you might need to understand before you can appreciate the whole picture. The No4 rifle was a very precisely made piece of gear. The very fine production tolerances achievable meant that every rifle could be assembled with any parts from production within set tolerances and be correct for headspace with either a No0 or a No1 bolt head fitted. To leave the factory, that was between .064" and .068" headspace. If a rifle failed headspace in service (failed the "field" gauge at .074") Then it was sent back for repair. If it could be headspaced with the next size bolt head (either a 1 to replace a 0, or a 2 to replace a 1) it was deemed good to go. If a rifle did not pass headspace with a No2 bolt head, then it was passed up the line to the senior inspector who would apply the Gauge, Inspectors, Selected Breach Bolt. If the receiver passed the test, it could be fitted with a No3 bolt head and put back into service.
    NOTE HERE. A NO3 BOLT HEAD WAS ONLY TO BE USED ON THE SAY SO OF THE SENIOR INSPECTOR.
    If it did not pass the test, it would have been sentenced Z for return to the factory, (even if a No3 bolt head would pass headspace)
    Interestingly, I wonder how many rifles are out there with No3 bolt heads in them that the owners have fitted to keep them in heasdspace, when actually the receivers may be worn beyond reasonable limits.
    Also I wonder about the amount of rabid buying in the past of number3 bolt heads and the owners who have fitted them because their rifles failed the SAAMI spec field gauge at .070", which is a good .004" below the manufacturers spec...
    I would suggest, short of panic, anyone who has a No3 bolt head in a No4 or No5 rifle should own a .074" headspace gauge and check the rifle every couple of hundred rounds. If the hardness has gone (or becomes too thin from ongoing use) from the locking shoulders, the headspace will increase as the softer metal is extruded by the forces of firing. Checking and finding it failing with a No3 bolthead that passed a hundred rounds ago will tell you things are not right.. time to retire the rifle. NOT REPLACE THE BOLT BODY!
    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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    Member billy67's Avatar
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    Thread Starter
    Dunno how comes I had no3 in mind its in facts a no2 bolt head lol
    rifle is still pack with heavy grease and the bolt look brand new, same at everything else









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    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billy67 View Post
    Dunno how comes I had no3 in mind
    Quote Originally Posted by billy67 View Post
    the bolt look brand new, same at everything else
    Don't know. Typing from memory and you likely have a few. Yes, looks about new. Whole thing...
    Regards, Jim

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    Advisory Panel Brian Dick's Avatar
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    You can find #0,1 and 2 bolt heads on new rifles. The whole idea of the different length bolt heads to be selected for proper headspace was designed as a production expedient. #3 bolt heads were used later during FTR to get the last life out of well used rifles but you wouldn't see them as new from the factory. Your rifle looks legit and excellent. When you find them with the Dulite bluing in that condition, you know that they weren't used much. It wasn't the most durable finish in the small arms world.

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    Advisory Panel Lee Enfield's Avatar
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    I think that everyone forgets that during the war these things were expected to have a lifespan measured in weeks.

    I have a Savage in the original shipping box - i've never looked at the bolt, maybe I should to make sure it meets the "criterion".

  14. #8
    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Enfield View Post
    a lifespan measured in weeks
    I thought the service lifespan of a Sten or Number 4 rifle was more like 70 hours in action? Predicted...
    Regards, Jim

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    Contributing Member mrclark303's Avatar
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    The pointlessness of tightening up a rimmed round like .303 Jim, all he was doing is putting extra pressure on the rim....
    .303, helping Englishmen express their feelings since 1889

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  17. #10
    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrclark303 View Post
    pointlessness of tightening up a rimmed round
    Agreed, he had no idea what was actually goin on.
    Regards, Jim

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