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Old May 26, 2012, 09:49 PM   #1
deepvalley
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.303 British accuracy?

I am asking this question because a friend of mine just received a Lee Enfield .303 British made in England as a gift. It is a No.4 mk1 made in 1942. It has a cut down stock but factory sights. We havent shot it yet but as far as accuracy heres the question. What moa can we expect from this decommisioned SNP rifle. We will be shooting it at 100yrds. Can anyone help us out with some figures? I would like to have an idea about accuracy so I can set up a backstop without worrying about over shots!
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Old May 26, 2012, 09:55 PM   #2
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I have a No.4 Mk 1/2. It was unfired when I got it in the mid 80's. With the aperture sight and surplus Greek ammo, it was printing about 4 inches off the sandbag. If I flip up the ladder sight and use the smaller aperture, it tightened up to 2 and a half to 3 inch groups.
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Old May 26, 2012, 10:47 PM   #3
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Enfield:

I have one that was made by Stevens as part of the lend-lease deal with the Brits in WW-II. It's a flat shooter, but kinda particular about the ammo. Try different brands as you go along. Mine favors 180gr Remington roundnose. Go figure!
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Old May 26, 2012, 11:01 PM   #4
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What moa can we expect from this decommisioned SNP rifle.
Deepvalley- Man, that's a tough question to try to put a finger on. None of us have a clue as to what kind of life and care that rifle has seen. If it had a new and pristine bbl- then that would be a different matter, at least we could opine that to pass Brit acceptance standards- it had to manage at least 3"-4" groups.
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Old May 27, 2012, 12:24 AM   #5
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The .303 is the Commonwealth's version of the .30-06 or 8mm Mauser. With the right load and in the right rifle they're all very accurate.

As the others have said 4 moa would be ok. 6moa isn't out of the question. If you're lucky 2moa is possible.
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Old May 27, 2012, 05:43 AM   #6
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I've shoot maybe two hundred different No4's. If you can get under 2moa it's special. 3-4 was the norm for these when new. Any that shot under 3moa were set aside for the No4(T) program.

I have three MkII's that came to me new or under 100 rounds fired. These 1954 and 1955 production rifle are the best shooters the Brits made, with hand loads I can get just under 2moa.




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Old May 27, 2012, 06:07 AM   #7
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If you have the knowledge and inclination to properly bed and accurize a Lee Enfield, taking note of ammunition by slugging the bore et al; it is possible to achieve 1 MOA. Condition of stocking up, crown, wear in throat, lead and final 3rd of bore will have their say in what is possible. Many of these rifles have seen 2 world wars and many small wars afterwards - they have not been under the care of a Commonwealth Armorer for nigh on 60 years, so with your care, interest and attention - notwithstanding condition - it is possible to shoot very tight groups. Each rifle must be taken on its merits ...

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Old May 27, 2012, 09:47 AM   #8
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I doubt that you need to worry about a large backstop. Just take it to the range first....mine was and is very accurate. Father-in-law and brother's-in-law killed a number of deer at 100+ yards and reported it was great to shoot and accurate.

As I recall the British used the Enfield as their sniper rifle as well.....must have been fairly accurate!
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Old May 27, 2012, 11:47 AM   #9
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Quote:
As I recall the British used the Enfield as their sniper rifle as well.....must have been fairly accurate!
Its what they had.

The one that had a reputation for out of the factory accuracy is the 1903 (you could just pull one, set it up as a sniper and be confident it would shoot well). The others tested and picked the best of what they had.

If you did that even the MN was accurate enough to be used as a sniper.

My brother picked up a 1903 Remington A3 I believe. With the military rear peep sights he shot a dime sized group at 50 yards the other day.

Thats like a .75 MOA.

Keep in mind that you need hand loads to do that. Military ammo would not get you that, Brit or any other.
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Old May 27, 2012, 01:27 PM   #10
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Accuracy is a combination of good ammunition and a rifle in good condition.

As interesting as the .303 cartridge is from a historical prespective, its an evolutionary dead end.

Very accurate ammunition for the .303 does not exist to my knowledge. Hornady, Priv Partisan, Remington, Federal, corrosive military surplus (if you can find it) are your options for factory ammunition. The .303 went out of British service in the 1950s and other parts of the empire a little later so the military surplus market has long dried up.

No one makes modern match bullets for the .303 to my knowledge. Since it uses bullets with a .311 diameter instead of a .308 like the Win .308 or 30'06, there is not a widely used modern cartidge that shares commonality so ammo companies have long stopped making improvements to .311 bullets.

.303 Enfield Rifle was a battle rifle made often during wartime with loose tolerances to fight wars not to win precision matches. 3-4 MOA was acceptable accuracy when it was brand new. Years of corrosive ammunition use, poor storage only can make it worse.

I have a .303 No. 1 Mk III Enfield that was built in Lithgow, Austrailia in 1942, sporterized in the 1950s but never fired still covered in cosmoline when I received it as a gift several years ago. With various factory ammunition, I only got 4-6 MOA using Prvi Partisan, Hornady, and Remington.

With my best handloads, the best accuracy I could achieve was 3 MOA. I think that's the best you can hope for with such a old military surplus.

Last edited by Flakbait; May 27, 2012 at 02:06 PM.
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Old May 27, 2012, 01:43 PM   #11
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Last I checked Sierra still offered a .311 match bullet. 174 grains..

So getting a good bullet isn't the question, and handloading for a particular rifle isn't the question. Most milsurp barrels from the era of corrosive primers weren't exactly well taken care of (with apologies to the Finns and the Swedes who seemed to know what they were doing...)

With a tight barrel, proper headspace, and a handloaded cartridge I expect that the Enfield would easily do 2 minutes all day long. If any of that goes out of spec, then all bets are off.

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Old May 27, 2012, 05:37 PM   #12
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Most Military rifles fire 2"-4" MOA. With a little bit of "tweaking" you can usually get them down to 1"-2" MOA.
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Old May 27, 2012, 06:05 PM   #13
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Enfields have a far more complex system of stocking up than other Milsurps that have a single stock. In an Enfield you have several area's where tolerances must be absolutely right, or else your accuracy will suffer. Most people have no idea how to attend to the correct stocking up of an Enfield and frequently assume the rifle is inaccurate or not capable of accuracy.

A dry stock that has been without oil for some years can shrink and allow lateral movement of the action body, which will again, effect accuracy. There are a plethora of items that need attending to when accurizing an Enfield, it's not hard work, but it requires patience and attention to detail. Sort that out and you will have a chance.

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Old May 27, 2012, 06:59 PM   #14
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story

Couple of years ago, I met a very interesting old gent, who I believe, stated he was from New Zealand. Quite a character. Among other things he told me about shooting military "rifle matches" with a Lee Enfield, unknown particulars, and claimed "very good accuracy" at long range.

Dunno.

The two piece stock arrangment on the rifle could be an issue. Seems like a read an article about the H&H set up 4T's where the Lee/Enf was the most accurate of the various WWII snipers the author tested.
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Old May 27, 2012, 08:44 PM   #15
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Bamaranger ...

In Australia and the U.K, the Lee Enfield has been used for 1000 yard matches since the early 1920's. It was not until the 1960's that Australia developed a specific 1000 yard Fullbore rifle ( The Omark M44 in 7.62mm ). Many people to this day still shoot 1000 yard matches with an accurized Lee Enfield and in Bisley, England, the Enfield still holds all the 1000 yard match records.

If you do a search here, look for a post I made about Gabe McMillan praising the amazing 1000 yard match winning Enfields at Bisley ... Gabe lost a bet over his doubts about the .303 Enfield - that cost him one of his own custom rifles!

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Old May 28, 2012, 06:15 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flakbait
Accuracy is a combination of good ammunition and a rifle in good condition.

As interesting as the .303 cartridge is from a historical prespective, its an evolutionary dead end.

Very accurate ammunition for the .303 does not exist to my knowledge. Hornady, Priv Partisan, Remington, Federal, corrosive military surplus (if you can find it) are your options for factory ammunition. The .303 went out of British service in the 1950s and other parts of the empire a little later so the military surplus market has long dried up.

No one makes modern match bullets for the .303 to my knowledge. Since it uses bullets with a .311 diameter instead of a .308 like the Win .308 or 30'06, there is not a widely used modern cartidge that shares commonality so ammo companies have long stopped making improvements to .311 bullets.

.303 Enfield Rifle was a battle rifle made often during wartime with loose tolerances to fight wars not to win precision matches. 3-4 MOA was acceptable accuracy when it was brand new. Years of corrosive ammunition use, poor storage only can make it worse.

I have a .303 No. 1 Mk III Enfield that was built in Lithgow, Austrailia in 1942, sporterized in the 1950s but never fired still covered in cosmoline when I received it as a gift several years ago. With various factory ammunition, I only got 4-6 MOA using Prvi Partisan, Hornady, and Remington.

With my best handloads, the best accuracy I could achieve was 3 MOA. I think that's the best you can hope for with such a old military surplus.
A honest appraisal in my opinion. Even the H&H No4(T) sniper rifle only had a 3moa specification to meet. H&H used the best of the BSA and Maltby rifles, all five groove barrels that demonstrated better than normal accuracy just to go to H&H.

You can get hard cast bullets in .311, these may tighten your groups. Using a .308 bullet does limit potentials.
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Old May 28, 2012, 09:17 AM   #17
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I have always achieved better groups using bullets between 175-180gr over those of 150gr with my SMLEs.
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Old May 29, 2012, 04:23 PM   #18
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.311 & .312 bullets are commonly available from Sierra and Hornady for certain as I use them in my Mosin rifle.

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Old May 30, 2012, 12:40 AM   #19
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I was not aware of the Sierra Matchking bullets in .311.

Hornady makes .311 and 312 bullets which are FMJ and soft point not match bullets. FMJ and soft points are not always the most accurate choices.
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Old May 30, 2012, 01:20 AM   #20
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Don't people who want the best accuracy from their 303s cast their own lead bullets?
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Old May 30, 2012, 06:52 AM   #21
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Not all of them, but some with oversized bores do, some of us just find bullets that fit the bore.
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Old May 30, 2012, 08:38 AM   #22
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I don't know anybody casting lead for their Enfields round my way ... they cast for blackpowder but most are happy enough with the over counter sierra match kings, as am I.
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Old May 30, 2012, 09:07 AM   #23
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Hornady makes .311 and 312 bullets which are FMJ and soft point not match bullets.
Actually they do, custom specifically for Grafs. Part number HRN3130G. Ignore the picture, it's incorrect; I've got a box, they're standard HPBT bullets in Hornady's Match line. Between those an the .311 SMKs, good bullets aren't hard to come by anymore.
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Old May 30, 2012, 03:07 PM   #24
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Where you get the ammo, and whats the cost?
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Old May 30, 2012, 07:30 PM   #25
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Where you get the ammo, and whats the cost?
Who are you asking? What ammo are you refering to?
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