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Old August 20, 2013, 04:32 PM   #1
The Rattler
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Enfield Gunsmith Needed

I have an issue with my 303 British Enfield that my current gunsmith has been unsuccessful in addressing. While he is a very accomplished gunsmith on most gun problems, my issue requires a degree of expertise in Enfields that he does not have. I simply need to find another person to work on this problem.

Do any of you know of a gunsmith who has an expertise with Enfield rifles in the North Texas - Dallas - Fort Worth area? If not, do any of you know of one in the East Texas area? If you do not know of one in one of those two locations, then locations anywhere in Texas will do.

Any and all suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance.

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Old August 20, 2013, 06:01 PM   #2
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what the problem is?
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Old August 21, 2013, 01:10 PM   #3
The Rattler
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Need Enfield Gunsmith

I bought this rifle in 1958 and fired it many times until the early 70s without incident. My gunsmith says the headspace makes the cartridge too loose, and has been unsafe to fire the entire time I owned it, and will continue to be unsafe until I replace the bolt head, the gun is unsafe to fire. The smith could not find the bolt head, so I went on other forums to find one. I received many replies and almost all of them said that the described bolt does not exist for my rifle. Some suggested that my smith likely did not use the proper device to measure whatever one measures to make these determinations. Accordingly, I am looking for a new gunsmith with expertise or at least a fair degree of knowledge of 303 British Enfields in the Dallas - Ft. Worth Texas area. Alternatively, a smith in the East Texas area, or failing that, a smith somewhere in Texas.

Thanks for your interest.

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Old August 21, 2013, 02:41 PM   #4
robmkivseries70
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You might check this out by buying a head space gauge for your Enfield.
Best,
Rob
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Old August 21, 2013, 02:49 PM   #5
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Agreed. You need a headspace gauge which is really just dead simple to use. It is a "go" "no go" type of deal. I would bet Brownells has one in stock for the 303. The headspace on the Enfields is more generous than with some other rifles, which does not make them unsafe. It does complicate reloading a bit, but that is another subject. Best of luck.
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Old August 22, 2013, 09:37 AM   #6
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Enfields tend to have generous headspace, if they fail a no-go and pass a field gauge they are still considered fine by military standards.

What tests did your gunsmith do, and what was the result?
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Old August 22, 2013, 05:17 PM   #7
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.

Keep in mind that US-made .303 brass has a thinner rim than British-made, and may in & of itself cause a headspace issue.

You didn't specify exactly what "Enfield" you have, but Lee-Enfields are set up for 4 to 6 different sized boltheads, depending upon the model, to correct excessive headspace.

I would suggest you check your Enfield's headspace with a Forster Field Gauge.
The problem is that the gauge is 0.070".
AFAIK, the British used 0.074" as the maximum headspace for the .303.
So, even if the SAMMI gauge calls it no-good, it may still actually be OK.

Some places LE boltheads may be found F/S are:

http://www.e-sarcoinc.com/leeenfield.aspx

http://www.valmontfirearms.co.uk/Leeenfield.html

http://www.gunpartscorp.com/Manufact...ield-33496.htm


.
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Old August 22, 2013, 09:12 PM   #8
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@petahW: I was thinking some of the things you said. I assumed that the original poster was NOT talking about a pattern 14 enfield, but instead had either a No.1, MKIII, or a No. 4 or No. 5.

And you're right. The No4/5 's had a system where the bolts had different lengths and were numbered 0 through 3 on the extractor lug, with 0 being the shortest. The incremental lengths were .003 inches. You're also right about the British using a head space tolerance of .064 to .074. What I didn't know about, was the thinner rims on US brass. I just miked a winchester .303 and, yep, it miked .060 on the rim.

My understanding (though not sure) is that the system of the numbered bolt head spacing started with the No4/No5 rifles. If that's true, then the original poster would be out of luck finding numbered bolt heads with precise lengths to correct head space on a No1.

I also didn't know that some models had 6 bolt head lengths. Which model(s) were those?

If the rifle is a pattern 14, then I don't know of any sure or easy way to correct head space other than to set the barrel back and re-chamber?
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Old August 22, 2013, 09:54 PM   #9
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I have fixed about 6 that were a bit "loose"

All he needs to do is to remove the barrel and trim off the breach end the measurement of one thread. You then deepen the extractor cut the same amount.

This brings the chamber back too much so that it has too little room.

All that's needed then is to chamber the barrel out to the correct depth to set headspace to .003" on the rim and you have a perfect chamber.
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Old August 23, 2013, 07:34 AM   #10
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Couple of comments come to mind so I'll share.

Headspace:
Get the correct gauges, don't mickey mouse it. British spec gauges are available from Okie gauges.

Know where headspace is (& isn't) measured in an Enfield & don't confudse "generous chambers" with "excessive headspace" thats probably hoe we got here in the first place.

I get the oimpression the OP is not comfortable doing this himself, which is why he's looking for a smith with the expertise he needs, not tips on how to DIY.
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Old August 23, 2013, 10:01 AM   #11
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Some of my notes from working on Enfields

I read the "springy" enfield action in load books and doubted that was
the real cause of 303 brass having such short brass life. I suspected
it was the huge possible headspace range:

SAAMI is .054 to .064 cartridges and .064 to .071" chamber.
That makes .017" of stretch for the case wall possible.
That should make a case separate in a few firings!
The range of bolt heads should allow one to tighten up the chamber range from .008" to .005":
No 4 bolthead sizes:
0 - .629 to .625 in.
1 - .625 to .630 in.
2 - .630 to .635 in.
3 - .635 to .640 in.

Then I looked at the cross section of metal in the bolt body and calculated the possible compression, and the bolt IS SPRINGY!

10 years ago I could find no replacement long bolt heads for sale in the USA or Canada.

I set out to make shim on the bolt face to tune up the headspace. That worked once, but when I got some surplus bolt heads from Trader's Warehouse in Shotgun News, the bolt heads had never been fitted to a rifle and needed me to not just face the bolt heads, but to remove material on the back side where the bolt head locates on the bolt body. The Clocking of the threads was the problem, as the lug on the head must line up with the lug on the body. I also made a fixture that holds the head so that the thin part in the rear is bathed in cooling water while a solder a shim on the face.


After I posted a pic of my soldering shims on a No 4 bolt head, some guy in FL posted that he had been doing that for a long time with No 1 Enfields.

Some guys on this forum say "indexed" when I would say "clocked".
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 303bolthead&holdersmall.jpg (33.8 KB, 23 views)
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Old August 29, 2013, 09:13 AM   #12
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This guy named Brian Dick:

http://www.bdlltd.com/About_Us.html

is known to be an Enfield guru. I had done some research on a couple Enfield forums, and apparently there is a lot of misinformation about the specifics of Enfield repair out there. This guy is supposed to be the real deal.

He told me for $30 + shipping he will check over my Enfield and tell me if it needs anything. I am going to do it, but have been dragging my feet a little while I find a box or case to ship it in.

Good luck!

David
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Old August 29, 2013, 11:14 AM   #13
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Not knocking him in any way but the OP wanted :
Quote:
" in the North Texas - Dallas - Fort Worth area"
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Old August 29, 2013, 08:07 PM   #14
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Well, yes but expecting to find a local specialist gunsmith is not realistic.
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Old August 30, 2013, 12:29 PM   #15
tahunua001
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expecting to find a enfield specialist in a region with over 8 million people is unrealistic?
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Old August 31, 2013, 12:46 AM   #16
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Chasing perfect headspace in a Lee Enfield is a big fat waste of time.
The flat breech/rimmed cartridge combination is vastly tolerant of excessive
headspace---from the standpoint of safety---and the OP's gunsmith was flat out WRONG about the rifle having been unsafe for the 10+ years he had been firing it.
To expose the case above the web---which is when "dangerous" becomes real--would require almost .250" from bolthead to breech face and even the most shot-out rattletrap LE never gets there.

These are the curse of the Enfield---


If you insist on wasting effort:
Here's an Austin gunsmith who installed a barrel on one of my No1 MkIII Enfields. He does good work.
http://www.hankgun.com/

-----krinko
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Old September 1, 2013, 07:43 PM   #17
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wogpotter

"Know where headspace is (& isn't) measured in an Enfield & don't confudse "generous chambers" with "excessive headspace" thats probably hoe we got here in the first place."

Enfields have generous chambers, but remember head spacing is done at the rim not the shoulder.

And sorry, I only know of one smith who specializes in Enfields, but he is no where near Texas.
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Old September 2, 2013, 01:23 AM   #18
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If you know the rim thickness of the cartridge is .060" and .074" is at or close to excessive headspace, it might be of interest that peel-off mailing labels run .0025-.003" So 4 discs of same stuck to the base of the cartridge.... Quick and dirty and no, not a substitute for a gauge, but it might show if a gauge is needed or not.

OK, let's hear the expressions of horror and sneers at my ignorance.

Krinko, what you say is true for any rifle, whether Lee-Enfield or not, whether the cartridge is rimless or not. But a case can stretch enough for head separation well before it protrudes from the chamber enough to leave the case unsupported above the base. Although case separation rarely is dangerous (except, of course, in combat), but it is a nuisance and will certainly spoil a hunt.

Jim
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Old September 2, 2013, 08:35 AM   #19
wogpotter
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Quote:
Enfields have generous chambers, but remember head spacing is done at the rim not the shoulder.
That was actually my point.
Not all are generous, but some are, that's why I suggested you seperate the difference between the headspace at the rim, & the "extra" space in the front of the chamber.
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Old September 2, 2013, 09:23 PM   #20
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"Krinko, what you say is true for any rifle, whether Lee-Enfield or not, whether the cartridge is rimless or not."

Different rifle systems have different margins of safety at the breech because of their individual design features---so it's not AS true for all rifles.
The cone-breech system used in the US '03 Springfield/'17 Enfield comes to mind as perhaps the least forgiving.
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Old September 3, 2013, 09:15 PM   #21
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But they all can blow if allowed to stretch far enough; some have less case support than others, so can tolerate less stretch than others. The cone breech gives adequate support when everything is OK, though, and there have been few problems with it.

The problems with the Springfield had nothing to do directly with the breeching; the M1917 Enfield, much praised for its strength, and the pre-64 Model 70 Winchester both have a cone breech.

Jim
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Old September 5, 2013, 10:18 PM   #22
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The chamber shoulder of Lee-Enfields are..

1/16" further up the chamber. This was British Army idea of allowing any battlefield ammo to be picked-up and be chambered and go boom.

Headspace is still controlled by the case rim, adjusting the headspace was a simple process of swapping bolt heads [there is a range of numbered bolt heads] that headspace would be tighten up.

If you are reloading you must neck size the fired cases.

Hope this clarifies the situation.
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Old September 12, 2013, 03:12 PM   #23
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Outcome of the Enfield Headspace Issue

I found a gunsmith in Greenville, Texas (about 65 miles from my home) who has traded and repaired Enfields for 45 years. He inspected the rifle, performed measurements, and shot it. He said he found no evidence that the rifle is unsafe to fire. In fact, he said that he would have no problem firing 1,000 rounds with it. Now, with my renewed interest in fire arms, I will have the use of a sentimental favorite from my childhood. After having the rifle condemned, that is a great outcome that I am most pleased with.

If anyone wants the contact information for this specialist, let me know and I will gladly provide it.

I greatly appreciate all of the responses made. They gave me hope that my rifle may not be unsafe as originally reported and helped give me the encouragement to find someone more qualified to make that judgment.

Thank you all very much.
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Old September 12, 2013, 03:47 PM   #24
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Great news.
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Old September 13, 2013, 08:31 AM   #25
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Sorry I found this thread a little late. I'm glad the OP found a solution.
However, there is a gentleman in the DFW area with lots of experience on SMLE type rifles.
http://www.leesgunparts.com/
Just adding this in case someone is looking for advice on an LE closer to "home".
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