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Old June 12, 2013, 02:51 PM   #1
'88Scrat
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SMLE No.4 Mk.1 Price

A guy around here is selling an SMLE No. 4 Mk.1 for $425. It was made in 1942 and all numbers match. Stock seems to be in good condition and there is no rust or pitting anywhere. But he said he has never fired it.

I don't know a whole lot about SMLEs so what advice can you guys give? Does this seem a fair price? What should I look for when I examine it?

Thanks
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Old June 12, 2013, 03:43 PM   #2
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Its either a No 1 of some type & therfore a Short Model Lee Enfield, or its a No 4, in which case it is not an SMLE. Not trying to nit-pick but it might affect the value as the 2 different versions both have unique features which relate to value.

Easy way to tell? Look at the muzzle. If it sticks out about 2" it's some kind of No4, if its flush then its some kind of No1/SMLE. Usually the stampings on the reciever wil actually say the model, mark & * or non-* version.

What to look for?
General condition, including inside the bore. How many grooves 2, 5 or 6?

Matching numbers. There should be several. Reciever (either on the wrist metal or the flat left side reciever wall (depends on the model, they were re-located.) Bolt (stamped on the back, flat surface of the bolt handle), forend wood, Magazine & maybe the metal forend cap if its a No1 SMLE, the No 4 doesn't have the cap, just a sheet metal cap.

Bolt head number if its a No 4.

Headspace.

No1 or Short Model Lee Enfield:


No4 Mk1 lee enfield:


There may be minor differences from the images, things like sights were made in several variations.

The devil is in the details, even which factory made it could affect value! I'd price a run of the mill, all matching good condition one at between $350 & $550 depending on the details.

If the wood has been drastically cut back, the barrel altered & so on its a "Sporterised rifle" these vary in quality from nice gunsmith made legitimate rifles to "Bubba's Shade Tree Gunsmiffin' & Siding co" hack jobs. Value of these is drastically reduced for the most part. Say $100~150 depending on condition & quality of work.
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Old June 12, 2013, 04:11 PM   #3
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At the risk of asking a dumb question; grooves?
You mean the rifling or something else?

Also what it the suggested headspace, as a battle rifle I figure it must be pretty high but I don't know that.
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Old June 12, 2013, 07:02 PM   #4
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yes, the grooves are the rifling.

there is no set headspacing number. the different numbers are to make each individual rifle meet headspace standards, two completely identical enfields can have different sized bolt heads and still come out with the same head spacing.
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Old June 13, 2013, 01:01 AM   #5
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Quote:
Its either a No 1 of some type & therfore a Short Model Lee Enfield, or its a No 4, in which case it is not an SMLE
Rifle, Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield: because it was a rifle, as opposed to a musket, short, as opposed to the longer rifles common in the late 19th Century/early 20th Century, magazine-fed, as opposed to the single-shot rifles common in the late 19th Century, invented by James Paris Lee, and using the Enfield Armory pattern rifling as opposed to the Metford rifling of the earlier Lee-Metford rifle. Once it became the standard rifle of the British Army, there was no need to distinguish it from other rifles (since there were no others), and the SMLE definition was dropped. The rifle itself was very similar in many respects. "Number" or "No" was a major design change (over the years, there were several), "Mark" or "Mk" was a minor design or specification change (similar to the US use of A1, A2, etc, etc).
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Old June 13, 2013, 07:25 AM   #6
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Headspace is a fixed point measurement with a max, suggested, & min value. You check it with a gauge to see if its within these specs. You cant tell from the bolt head number, but you can swap; the head for a longer or shorter one to fix any problem that might exist.

There are 2 standards, one a U.S. SAAMI standard which is a tad "off" & a "real" spec, which is the one to use.

This is excerpted from the Okie Gauges manual for the set of gauges:
"Headspace gauges generally come in 3 sizes:
GO: measures the minimum acceptable headspace. This size is most often used when re-barreling or re-chambering a firearm.
NO-GO: This gauge is used to check for excessive headspace. If a firearm closes on the NO-GO gauge it is an indication that the weapon MAY not be safe to fire. Reloading ammunition for a firearm that fails NO-GO can result in unsafe loads due in part to the expended brass being elongated as a result of not being firmly chambered. Most military surplus firearms that pass NO-GO (the bolt will not fully close on the gauge) are considered safe to fire with surplus ammunition, or with modem loads not intended for reloading.
FIELD: A firearm failing the NO-GO spec can be tested on the slightly more forgiving FIELD gauge. Military chamber specifications are generally looser than commercial firearms, giving them a bit of tolerance for adverse conditions such as dirty chambers, weather extremes, etc. A firearm passing FIELD spec (not closing fully on the gauge) is generally considered safe to fire the ammunition it was designed to fire, i.e. military surplus ammunition of the designated caliber.

These are to be considered GENERAL GUIDELINES and are in no way intended to be an assurance of the safety of a particular firearm. If you have doubts about a firearm's safety and usability you should have it checked by a professional gunsmith.
"
GO NO-GO FIELD
(One dimple) (Two dimples) (Three dimples)
GO = 0.064" NO-GO = 0.067" FIELD = 0.074".
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Old June 13, 2013, 08:55 AM   #7
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@wogpotter & scorch: Thanks for the trivia about the use of SMLE. It is a fascinating distinction. I never thought it through before. However, I think I will keep saying, SMLE #4. I'm afraid that if I described my rifle as just a "number 4", I would get a lot of blank stares.
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Old June 13, 2013, 09:15 AM   #8
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if it helps, the no 4 dropped the S and just went to MLE, during WWI, the brits called their rifles 'Smellies'(SMLE). during WWII, they just started calling them Emily(MLE). I call my number 4 Emily all the time. gives other people the redass cuz they have no idea what I'm talking about
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Old June 13, 2013, 09:45 AM   #9
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I plan on shooting this rifle, it won't be a safe queen; I might even try to perfect the mad minute if time and money permit .

But I also want historical accuracy, as this rifle will be joining my M1, Mauser 98K, and Mosin in my WW2 collection. Which was more common in WW2, the No.1 SMLE or the No.4 Mk.1?

Forgive my ignorance...
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Old June 13, 2013, 10:21 AM   #10
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@scrat: Have fun, but be forewarned. #4's usually have grossly oversized chambers. My longbranch #4 eats brass at such a rate, that, to satisfy the .303 craving, I shoot my Ruger #1 instead.
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Old June 13, 2013, 11:25 AM   #11
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FWIW, such was the influence of Britain in military matters in the late 19th century that the previously mentioned Metford rifling was used by other countries and survived until the end of WWII - in the Japanese Arisaka rifles.

Jim
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Old June 13, 2013, 12:12 PM   #12
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Quote:
if it helps, the no 4 dropped the S and just went to MLE, during WWI
Fraid not. The No4 was strictly a WW2 rifle. MLE was a much earlier (Long Lee) Metford version from the Boer war. It became the CLLE (Charger Loading Lee Enfield), which was shortened for one size fits all troop use & became the SMLE. Thats where the "S" came from the shortening of the Long Lee.

HAMMIE: It would depend on what part of WW2 you're trying to be accurate to. Pre Dunkirque the SMLE was far more common. After so many were lost or abandoned there the No4 would have become more so, but there were SMLE's right up through the end of the war.

The usual name is "No4 Enfield" BTW, they'll know what you mean.
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Old June 13, 2013, 12:41 PM   #13
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@Mr. Wogpotter: #4 Enfield it is!
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Old June 13, 2013, 01:38 PM   #14
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A note about headspace

One thing you should be aware of, that headspace is just a measurement of the distance from a given point, to a given point, done to ensure that the ammo will fit properly.

In many (most) modern cartridge designs, the lenth of the chamber (to a given point, such as the datum line on the case shoulder) is important. But the .303 British is a holdover from a bygone era.

It is a rimmed case, and headspaces on the rim. SO, the headspace measurement is the measurement of how much room there is for the case rim, and has nothing to do with the body size of the chamber. A .303 British can have "perfect" headspace, and still have an oversize (common) or undersize (extrememly rare) chamber.

The military only cares that the ammo goes in, goes bang, and comes out so more can go in. Historically, .303 British chambers tend to be ...generous.

Only reloaders care about re-using the brass, and how long it lasts. Military .303s allow a good amount of case stretch, which shortens brass life. Again, of zero concern to anyone who doesn't reload, but a big one to those who do.

The British nomenclature system makes perfect sense when explained to me, but boggles my mind when I try to remember it. I have a WWI SMLE (No III Mk 1*????) and a WWII SMLE (No 4 Mk 1???), and I just call them all SMLE's or .303 Brits and most folks understand. Collectors, get picky but that's in the nature of a collector, no matter what the field.

Also note that while the magazine is detatchable, it was never intended to be used the way we use detatchable magazines in semi autos. The SMLE mag can be removed for cleaning, maint, and as a quick way to unload the rifle. And while a spare mag can be loaded and used to extend the firepower, the SMLE was intended to be reloaded with the mag in place, using stripper clips.

The magazines have only small tabs to keep the rounds in place when its not in the gun, a much less secure system than the feed lips used in magazines for semi autos. It is much easier for rounds to come loose, or become misaligned if carried loaded outside the rifle than more modern magazine designs.

Arguably the best battle rifle in its class, with a slick working bolt, adequate power, decent sights and a large (for a bolt gun) magazine capacity in its various marks and numbers the SMLE served Commonweath troops well for a long, long time.
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Old June 13, 2013, 03:12 PM   #15
wogpotter
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Regarding the headspace/chamber size thing.
You can extend case life massively by either neck sizing only, or by "partial full length resizing", which is my preferred method. Its also advisable to keep loads kind of mild (150 Gr FB bullet at 24540 FPS) to beat on the case less.

While many chambers are "generous, not all are so you'l basically be "tailoring" the reloads to that specific rifle.
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Old June 13, 2013, 03:15 PM   #16
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Quote:
I might even try to perfect the mad minute if time and money permit
PM me if you want to know the tricks that make this easier. Its more than just "shewtin' real fast" because the Brits were a sneaky lot when it came to lobbing lots of bullets downrage in a hurry.
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Old June 13, 2013, 07:41 PM   #17
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wogpotter, I wasn't insinuating that the NO4 was used in WWI. sometimes I use commas where I should use periods instead. apparently it didn't help much with my miss information however I could have sworn that MLE was reference to the NO4.

as for what was used more it's kindof a wash. some british units were still using the NO1 through much of WWII but by wars end they were almost completely fielding the NO4. austalia and india used the NO1 all the way through the war and never adopted the NO4. Canada used the NO4. historically both would be accurate though one could argue that the NO4 'won the war for the Brits'.
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Old June 13, 2013, 08:01 PM   #18
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I wonder... Between wogpotter and Tikirocker, which one is more versed in the ways of the Enfield?
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Old June 13, 2013, 09:17 PM   #19
tahunua001
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ignore my complete lack of capitalization. I still have no problem correcting your grammar.
I never said half the crap people said I did-Albert Einstein
You can't believe everything you read on the internet-Benjamin Franklin
Bean counters told me I couldn't fire a man for being in a wheelchair, did it anyway. Ramps are expensive.-Cave Johnson.
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Old June 14, 2013, 08:35 AM   #20
wogpotter
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Tikirocker, I just shoot 'em he collects as well.
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Old June 18, 2013, 11:32 PM   #21
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Well here it is guys.

Haven't gotten a chance to shoot it yet but that's what Friday is gonna be for. Thanks for everything; and wogpotter, PM sent.



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Old June 19, 2013, 08:10 AM   #22
wogpotter
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That looks like a great rifle!

A tip if I may. The rifle is cocked, which isn't great technique for the striker spring. Try this, open the bolt, double-check the rifle is unloaded & really, really empty, then open the bolt, pull & hold the trigger & close the bolt. This will let the striker spring relax & keep it fresher, longer!
Oh & I sent you a reply to the PM, go buy some chargers right away, you're gonna need them!
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Old June 20, 2013, 02:51 PM   #23
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Nice Rifle. It cost me that to put together my No4 from parts and refurbish it. Yours is orginal! Is it a longbranch? Any markings on the receiver? I use a hand loader for my No4 and it saves the brass so the 303 can be reloaded 5-6 times no problem. Great rifle I put 5 rounds in a fist sized group at 200 yards using the target sights. Take a picture of your rear sights at they machined or pressed metal?
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Old June 20, 2013, 05:44 PM   #24
wogpotter
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Looking at his pictures I think I see the lever for a Mk3 (stamped) sliding sight in the top picture.
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