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EdInk
September 2, 2010, 09:52 PM
My main interest for years has been handguns. I am a relatively new rifle guy. I shoot long guns lefty and in general don't care for bolt actions because of the inconvience.

However, the historic appeal and legendary performance of these two rifles is starting to be a strong temptation that may make me getmivet having to reach over the gun and work the action.

I know that most feel the Enfield to be the best bolt action military rifle ever. The Springfield and Mauser aren't too shabby either. Anyway, I would like to start with one of the two rifles mentioned in the title. I like the look and capacity of the Enfield better but my patriotism AND ABSOLUTE LACK of desire or ability to RELOAD makes me think the Springfield in .30-06 would be the best choice ecause of ammo being easier to find.

What do you guys think?

EdInk
September 3, 2010, 01:02 AM
Really? No one would like throw in their C&R .02 about this question.

I would really appreciate it. I would really like to hear about the finer points of these rifles.

TX Hunter
September 3, 2010, 07:42 AM
Either one would be a great rifle to own, Be carefull though with the springfield, Avoid shooting an early serial numbered one, as they are suposed to be weak due to improper heat treating of the reciever.
I dont worry about patriotism with my gun collecting.
My favorite rifle to shoot is a Finnish worked over Mosin Nagant.

Hardcase
September 3, 2010, 09:31 AM
I see .303 British at several dealers on the Internet, so surplus ammo isn't too tough to find, but nothing beats the deals at CMP on .30-06.

I happen to favor the M1903 over the Enfield, but even if you pressed me, I couldn't tell you why - I just like it more. That being said, I like the Enfields a lot. They're both excellent rifles and both have earned a solid place in history. You'll probably be able to get into an Enfield for less money than a comparable '03, but ammo for the '03 will probably be cheaper.

To be honest, I don't think that you'll go wrong with either. Both are reliable, accurate and very collectible.

group17
September 3, 2010, 09:51 AM
You didn't mention cost.
I think your patriotism will cost you more.

Drummer101
September 3, 2010, 10:42 AM
I see .303 British at several dealers on the Internet, so surplus ammo isn't too tough to find,

If you find any let me know or send me a PM...

I only have 16 rounds left.

Scorch
September 3, 2010, 10:50 AM
FYI, both the Springfield and the Enfield are chambered for 30-06. The M1917 Enfield rifle was the most numerous rifle supplied to the AEF during WW1. Patriotism surely does not enter into the decision.

On the other hand, if you are referring to the Lee-Enfield rifle, properly known as Rifle, Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield, or SMLE for short, it was the service rifle the British had been trying to get rid of for many years before they got into WW1, let alone WW2. But a Lee-Enfield is not the same rifle as an Enfield.

alan
September 3, 2010, 11:55 AM
Re the choice between the U.S. Springfield and the British Lee-Enfield rifles, I too shoot rifles left handed, from my limited experiencse with the British Enfields, their bolt actions were easier to operate, the butt remains in the shooters sjoulder, than were most Springfields I've encountered.

I will offer the following. The cocking cam surfaces in the Springfield bolt can be welded up and recut to resemble the same on the Model 70 Winchester. I once ran into one such modified Springfield, and this mod really worked. Don't know about the costs thereof.

As for the "low number Springfields", I would think that by this point in time, that they had either failed or been turned in via an exchange program the NRA ran for many years.

wogpotter
September 3, 2010, 12:50 PM
Lee-Enfield was chambered in .303 British. (some later ones were chambered in 7.62mm NATO, but I'm sticking to WWII models here)

"American Enfield" (P-14) was chambered in .303 British.
"American Enfield" (P-17) was chambered in 30--06.
Just to clarify & avoid misunderstandings.

If I'm choosing between the Springfield '03 & the Enfield #1 then I give the edge to the '03.

If I'm choosing between the Springfield '03 & the Enfield #4, then I give the edge to the #4.
(better sights determine these choices, as the #4 has a micrometer peep & the '03 a v-notch). '03a3 Springfield has the better sights so a fairer comparison would be the '03 Vs the #1 or an 03a3 Vs a #4.

Personally I don't like the P-14 because of chamber dimensions which give a whole new meaning to the word "Generous":rolleyes:

Hardcase
September 3, 2010, 01:01 PM
If you find any let me know or send me a PM...

I only have 16 rounds left.

Uh oh, I guess I should have checked before I spouted off. Classic Arms "had" .303 British in stock, but now it's gone.

SOG has Radway Green from the '50s for $23/50 rounds. All the usual suspects have commercial stuff for around a buck a round.

James K
September 3, 2010, 01:05 PM
Well the U.S. Model 1917 was never officially called the "Enfield"; that was the nickname given it by Americans. And the nearly identical Pattern 1914 rifle was made for the British and chambered for the .303, not the .30-'06; it was also called the "Enfield" by Americans.

Even a British rifle, made in England, might not be an SMLE. That term is not valid for such rifles as the MLE, the MLM, and the CLLE, or for the Rifles No. 4 and No. 5, or the Pattern 1913.

If we assume the OP is referring to an SMLE, Mk III (Rifle No. 1 Mk III), and a M1903 Springfield, both are good rifles. The SMLE has advantages, such as an action that can be operated rapidly, and a large magazine capacity. But it has defects, mostly in its ammunition, not only corrosive and erosive, but also rimmed, leading to feeding problems. The Springfield (with the noted exception of low-number rifles) is stronger and much more accurate, though its sights are abysmal for a military rifle.

Anyone who is interested in military rifles really needs at least one of each.

Jim

Slamfire
September 3, 2010, 07:56 PM
As a battle rifle, the No 1 Mk III and No 4 Mk's 1 & 2 are better battle rifles. They are also more durable. Parts just don't break on Lee Enfields.

However they are a bugger to reload for, case life is short due to oversized chambers and the amount of stretch you get with a rear lugged action.

I much prefer an 03A3 to an 03. I cannot think of a worst set of sights on a military rifle than the 03. The peep will work with black bullseyes on paper, but try to use the peep in overcast or dark weather in the woods, and you won't see much of anything. The open sight notches are not so good either. The windage adjustment is in 4 MOA increments.

The 03A3 rear at least has MOA windage and the peep is close to the eye.

The Springfield will bust parts. I personally have broken firing pin collars, firing pin tips, and cocking pieces. The two piece firing pin is totally inferior to any one piece firing pin on any other military rifle. So buy spares.

I have broken an extractor and maybe an ejector. Those are unusual parts to break, but it has happened.

A 03 or 03A3 is a lot easier to bed than a Lee Enfield. It is a rare 70 to 90 year old rifle that does not have loose bedding. The wood compresses over time, the action slides around under recoil, and that must be fixed if you want even decent accuracy.

Overall, the Springfield is easier to load for and more accurate than a Lee Enfield. A pistol grip stocked Springfield is a better shooting stock than the straight grip Lee Enfield.

Buy both.

alan
September 3, 2010, 10:42 PM
To whomever it might concern:

Regarding reloading life, the rimmed .303 will fail fairly quickly if the shoulder is set back at each reloading. This problem can be avoided, it can happen with the 30-06 too, by not setting the shoulder back more than is "necessary", necessary being a somewhat subjective consideration. Set FULL LENGTH sizing die accordingly. For me, and I shot NMC competition that included RAPID FIRE stages, I set the shoulder back on 30-06 and 308 Win to the point where I felt "slight" camming when chambering a round.

As for corrosive primed surplus ammunition, buy BOXER PRIMED brass and load your own. These days, the cost difference might be surprisingly small. BTW, chamber pressure for 303 ammunition was, as memory serves, 40-45000 psi, 30-06 runs 50000 and 308 might be a bit more than that, say 52000 psi.

If one is bound and determined not to reload, and doesn't know anyone who does, then the choices are limited to factory loads, which I suspect are rather pricey or surplus military loads, which might be corrosive and are getting quite elderly, possibly unreliable. Corrosive ammunition, with bolt action rifles isn't that much of a problem, remove the bolt and run water, hot is better than cold, through the barrel, to remove chloride (salt) residue. Nothing can be done about old age, and possibly less than desirable storage conditions.

One pays their money and makes choices.

wogpotter
September 4, 2010, 08:31 AM
However they are a bugger to reload for, case life is short due to oversized chambers and the amount of stretch you get with a rear lugged action.
Hmmm.........
Neck size only, problem solved & easier than reloading most others as you don't even need to lube to neck size.
I'm still reloading some "Super-speed .303 British with kleen-prime" cases, when were those discontinued? Yeah case life is horribly short!
Can someone here actually show real evidence of the amount of stretch you get with a rear lugged action?:rolleyes:

alan
September 4, 2010, 11:18 PM
wogpotter Quote:
However they are a bugger to reload for, case life is short due to oversized chambers and the amount of stretch you get with a rear lugged action.

Hmmm.........
Neck size only, problem solved & easier than reloading most others as you don't even need to lube to neck size.
I'm still reloading some "Super-speed .303 British with kleen-prime" cases, when were those discontinued? Yeah case life is horribly short!
Can someone here actually show real evidence of the amount of stretch you get with a rear lugged action?

I've heard stories knocking trhe Lee-Enfield rifles, however if memory serves, it was 1971 or 72, The Palma Maatches were fireed at Bisley, the country hosting the match provided the range, rifles and ammunition.

The Brits "re-did" Lee-Enfield Rifles. They changed bolt rebarreled to caliber 7.62MM NATO (more or less 308 Win),

alan
September 4, 2010, 11:30 PM
wogpotter Quote:
However they are a bugger to reload for, case life is short due to oversized chambers and the amount of stretch you get with a rear lugged action.

Hmmm.........
Neck size only, problem solved & easier than reloading most others as you don't even need to lube to neck size.
I'm still reloading some "Super-speed .303 British with kleen-prime" cases, when were those discontinued? Yeah case life is horribly short!
Can someone here actually show real evidence of the amount of stretch you get with a rear lugged action?

I've heard stories knocking the Lee-Enfield rifles, however if memory serves, it was 1971 or 72, The Palma Matches were fired at Bisely, the country hosting the match provided the range, rifles and ammunition.

The Brits "re-did" Lee-Enfield Rifles. They rebarreled to caliber 7.62MM NATO (more or less 308 Win), added something called a "breaching washer", I do not know exactly what that was, and changed bolt head so that the modified rifles would extract rimless cases. Parker-Hale back sights, we call them rear sights were provided, I don't remember what if anything was done with the front sights. Ammunition provided was "Special Ball", whatever that amounted to.

I knew some people who shot that Palma Match, and from what they said, those modified rifles worked fine, no problems, nothing broke, notwithstanding the "weak" Lee-Enfield actions and their rear locking lugs. The British rifle were offered for sale to those who competed, or so I was told. I do not know if any of the Americans purchased them.

3Bn/8th INF
September 4, 2010, 11:36 PM
If you ask an old Limey about an Enfield, he will refer to it as an SMLE. I would think that they know more about the names of their rifles than these guys that think they know about Enfields. The Limeys I have spoken to about their rifles fought the Germans in North Africa. An Enfield is an SMLE or P14 or P17 or a #1 or #3 or a #4. They were made in 2 calibers and a prototype was made in a .25 caliber in the 50's. The SMLE was chambered in .303 as was the bolt action just before that (around 1899 or so) the P14 was chambered in .303 also. The P17 was chambered in .303 and also .30-06. In the late 1950's, Enfields were starting to be chambered in 7.62NATO or .308 until the mid 60s, some chambered in .410 shotgun for riot use in Indonesian police departments and also in India and Pakistan.

3Bn/8th INF
September 4, 2010, 11:44 PM
I have been loading .303 British for around 22 years for a #1 and a #4 and I don't beef them up. I get about 8 loads outta each case. That is only an average between Rem and Win cases. Win cases are thinner so I usually only get about 5 or 6 loads with them. All at factory military specs, FPS etc.

Jo6pak
September 5, 2010, 08:59 AM
It's funny to me how a simple question of choosing between two rifles can turn into insignificant nit-picking:barf:

The OP was obviously referring to the British .303 Lee-Enfields vs. the US M1903 Springflied.
Do we really need a post that attempts to clarify between the P14 and M1917?

The OP also states his "ABSOLUTE LACK of desire or ability to RELOAD"
Do we really need to post details about the difficulties of reloading .303 brass?
I realize that everyone may be just trying to help, but much of this unnecessary stuuf could be eliminated be reading the OP.
Maybe I was just out too late and am a little shaggy this morning, but this stuff borders the old "gun snobbery" label.

Anyway back to the original topic.
EdInk, I can't really choose between the two either. Both rifles have their admirers. The issue with the Brit rifles seems to be that once a guy gets one, he starts to feel the need to get all the other .303 models through the years.:D
And as was mentioned the Springfileds will cost quite a bit more than a comparable specimen of an Enfield.
I think you'll be happy with either.

44 AMP
September 5, 2010, 12:03 PM
It depends on what your overall desire for the rifle is. Collect and shoot, use in combat? Or just comparing features and minutia?

For the intended use, infantry combat, I would have to give the nod to the SMLE, by a fair amount. For anything else, the Springfield.

The heart of the 1903 is the Mauser type action. More than good enough for anything, if not so well optimised for combat as the SMLE.

In GI configuration, there are plusses and minuses to both, but since we are looking at intact pieces of history, one just has to live with them, and deal with them the best one can.

In modified configuration (sporterized), the Springfield is head and shoulders above the SMLE. Many, many fine target and hunting guns in numerous calibers have been built on 1903 series actions. That just isn't so with the SMLE. Working the stock to save weight and maybe adding a scope is about all that gets done to SMLEs (and that often badly). Conversions to anything other than .303 Brit are extremely rare.

SIGSHR
September 5, 2010, 05:20 PM
When I buy a milsurp I buy for the history and the collecting. I have seen it said of WWI that the US had the best target rifle, the UK the best battle rifle.
Some of the design features of the Lee Enfield to consider:
1. The No. 1 Mk III (I know for sure)-came with different butt sizes-Short, Normal, Long and then Bantam. The M1903 was one size fits all.You may get a rifle that doesn't quite fit you, then you have look for another buttstock and learn to install it.
2. The Lee Enfield bolt has a separate bolt head that is reasonably easy to replace. If you get a rifle with incorrect headspace correcting it is mostly a matter of getting the right parts. Correcting a headspace problem on an M1903 is a job for a gunsmith.
3. The UK-and the Empire-put the serial number on far more parts than we did, hence finding a Lee-Enfield that is "all matching" is really a matter of luck, since so many were repaired in the field or went through "FTR"-Factory Thorough Repair. M1903s were number on the receiver, that's about it. Many were rebuilt over the years of course, you will find a WWI receiver with a WWII barrel, etc.

alan
September 5, 2010, 11:15 PM
SIGSHR wrote:

SIGSHR
Senior Member


Join Date: September 13, 2005
Posts: 1,440 When I buy a milsurp I buy for the history and the collecting. I have seen it said of WWI that the US had the best target rifle, the UK the best battle rifle.
Some of the design features of the Lee Enfield to consider:
1. The No. 1 Mk III (I know for sure)-came with different butt sizes-Short, Normal, Long and then Bantam. The M1903 was one size fits all.You may get a rifle that doesn't quite fit you, then you have look for another buttstock and learn to install it.
2. The Lee Enfield bolt has a separate bolt head that is reasonably easy to replace. If you get a rifle with incorrect headspace correcting it is mostly a matter of getting the right parts. Correcting a headspace problem on an M1903 is a job for a gunsmith.
3. The UK-and the Empire-put the serial number on far more parts than we did, hence finding a Lee-Enfield that is "all matching" is really a matter of luck, since so many were repaired in the field or went through "FTR"-Factory Thorough Repair. M1903s were number on the receiver, that's about it. Many were rebuilt over the years of course, you will find a WWI receiver with a WWII barrel, etc.

What he said in item 1 was correct, different length butt stocks, for the 2 piece Lee-Enfield stocks. I knew about 3 differwrent lengths, didn't know about the 4th mentioned.

James K
September 6, 2010, 01:18 PM
If you are going from short to long on the stocks, Bantam is on the other end, being shorter than Short.

Jim

alan
September 6, 2010, 10:58 PM
SIGSHR
Senior Member
Join Date: September 13, 2005
Posts: 1,440
When I buy a milsurp I buy for the history and the collecting. I have seen it said of WWI that the US had the best target rifle, the UK the best battle rifle.
Some of the design features of the Lee Enfield to consider:
1. The No. 1 Mk III (I know for sure)-came with different butt sizes-Short, Normal, Long and then Bantam. The M1903 was one size fits all. You may get a rifle that doesn't quite fit you, then you have look for another buttstock and learn to install it.
2. The Lee Enfield bolt has a separate bolt head that is reasonably easy to replace. If you get a rifle with incorrect headspace correcting it is mostly a matter of getting the right parts. Correcting a headspace problem on an M1903 is a job for a gunsmith.
3. The UK-and the Empire-put the serial number on far more parts than we did, hence finding a Lee-Enfield that is "all matching" is really a matter of luck, since so many were repaired in the field or went through "FTR"-Factory Thorough Repair. M1903s were number on the receiver, that's about it. Many were rebuilt over the years of course, you will find a WWI receiver with a WWII barrel, etc.

Re the above, a good bit of my response appears to have gone lost along the way, so I will try once more.

Re item 2, I was aware of the replaceable bolt heads, used to adjust headspace. I would wonder re these items, as to their availability in the U.S., these days. As to adjusting headspace in most bolt action rifles, military or commercial varieties, this involves turning the barrel in, rethreading the shank and rechambering, definitely a job for a competent gun smith or the equivalent. As to this entire business of headspace, it might be somewhat overdone, for with unfired ammunition, in a rifle with excess headspace, how bad is it, I suspect that nothing is going to break on the first firing, and the case will end up fire formed. As to reloading these cases, either adjust a full length die so as not to set the shoulder back or neck size.

Re item 3, I don’t think that what is mentioned there would present a functional problem, though collectors might be interested.

Re buttstocks, I was aware of 3 lengths for the back end of the LE’s 2 piece stocks. I was unaware of the Bantam. One lives and one learns.

wogpotter
September 7, 2010, 08:13 AM
I would wonder re these items, as to their availability in the U.S., these days.
Not a problem, all the "usual suspects" have them.

http://www.gunpartscorp.com/catalog/...spx?catid=5833

http://ssporters.com/

http://www.sarcoinc.com/