View Full Version : Remington-made P17 Enfield (.303 British)

cornered rat
March 9, 1999, 11:34 PM
Just got a sporterized one for $90 (with some ammo). Nice gun, even if the sights are optimistic at 2000 yards!

1: What kind of accuracy can I expect?
2: What range is the default aperture set for?
3:Is there any kind or source of .303 ammo to avoid?
4:what kind of recoil to expect?

Cornered "but cheery" Rat

Unkel Gilbey
March 10, 1999, 03:00 AM
There are many sources of info on or about this rifle available here on the web and also in your favorite magazine store, much of my info comes from there.
First thing, is the weapon a P14 or a P17? The P14 was the stopgap weapon that was supplied to the Canadians and the British (by the US) during the first big war. It was chambered in .303 British to make feeding it relatively easy - as this is what their SMLE was chambered in. If the weapon is a P17, then it should be chambered in 30-06, as it was intended for US Troops. Make sure that you are feeding this piece the right fodder!
As far as accuracy is concerned, there are many different factors that come into play. If this rifle is in at least NRA good condition, then 3-5 minute groups would be a good ball park. If the barrel is dark and pitted, if the action is loose, these small details can affect accuracy. Bottom line, check the weapon over minutely, and if you're clueless, admit it and bring the weapon to a gunsmith and have him look it over.
Range of the Default aperture - This is where the phrase "Point Blank" came from I think. On WWI battle rifles, it was sort of like what we now call "Battle Sight Zero". I won't try to blow smoke here, my guess would be somewhere between 300 - 500 yards.
Ammo sources to avoid - I don't think that anyone will dispute that you should avoid corrosive primered ammunition. In Shot gun news and other sources, the type of ammo, ie: Berdan primed/Boxer primed, corrosive/non-corrosive, ball/FMJ/etc. is usually prominent in the ad. I'd avoid any source that doesn't give that kind of information. I personally go one step farther and buy ammo that is boxer primed, as I intend to reload the cases.
Recoil - This is something that you're going to have to learn for yourself. If I (or anyone else for that matter) told you that that weapon kicked like an Angry Mule, would you even fire it? Recoil is a mental thing I think. I've seen big, burly guys shy away from a .44 Magnum pistol, "Because it kicks, Man!", and yet Elmer Keith was a short, squatty Man, and he'd fire his all day long. Any one who's ever loaded (and fired) his 'Pet' .44 Mag load KNOWS that it is a sonuvabitch! I still remember the first time I fired a '03 Springfield. Nick-named the "Cheek Buster", it's English style stock was held so tightly to my cheek, my face was white for a week. I tightened up on the trigger, expecting the worse (jerked it too!)and the result was so anticlimatic, I had to work the bolt JUST to see that the weapon DID go off! So, don't worry about it! Concentrate on the sights, take up the slack in the trigger, and roll with it. You'll probably find the recoil to be pleasant, and will work the bolt as fast as you can just to send another down range! Good luck and stop yacking and go burn some powder!
Unkel Gilbey

Dave Finfrock
March 10, 1999, 03:24 AM
My understanding is that the P17 is the .30-06 US alternate service rifle of WW1. The P14 is the .303 British rifle. And yes, the sights are quite optimistic (volley fire, don't you know...).

My Eddystone P17 shoots very well indeed. If I'm having a good day, it will hold under 2" with good ammo.

Supposedly, the battle sight is zeroed for 100yds. I have a suspicion it's actually zeroed at about 300. It hits pretty high with military ball.

Not very familiar with .303 ammo. You're on your own.

My P17 has pretty healthy recoil, despite it's weight. No big deal, but it can be a bit unpleasent from the bench if you're firing long strings.

cornered rat
March 10, 1999, 08:23 AM
When I first complained about recoil of a bolt 20ga, Q suggested a shooting vest. What are those?

On corrosive ammo...why not? I always clean my guns right after shooting...is there another reason?

Any sources of ammo known to be dangerous (badly stored and therefore possible KB)?

It must be a P14, then...303, markings say made by ERA (Eddystone? Remington?) Was $90 in the ballpark? (It is a sportster, with red-tipped drift-adjustable front, lighter than the fully-stocked rifle) It does have a smallish recoil paf made of ribbed rubber.

I hope that the light weight isn't going to make it kick worse (I only have 20ga to compare it to in bolt guns)...the store where I got it will take it back if I can't shoot it...I am their favorite wuss.

March 10, 1999, 10:07 AM
In general I believe that it has a little more percieved recoil than a 20 gauge. You also want to watch out for ammo labelled cordite. That is old, corrosive ammo from around WWI and before. The reason most people don't like corrosive ammo is that it starts to corrode right after firing. Though you won't notice it for a few hours. Primers are also corrosive. You want to make sure you clean the whole action and not only the barrel.

cornered rat
March 10, 1999, 10:17 AM
Looks like Pakistani ammo is like that, should be avoided (also linked to persistent hangfires). Surplus Winchester-made .303 looks like the best bet...any ideas as to where I can find that?

Dave Finfrock
March 10, 1999, 01:41 PM
I don't think the fact surplus ammo might have corrosive priming is that big of a deal. I'd steer clear of anyting with Cordite as a propellant, but chlorate priming isn't a concern. Just be sure to clean with dilute ammonia, Windex with ammonia, hot soapy water, or M372 bore solvent. RB17 has a relatively high ammonia concentration, but I'm not sure how good it is at deactivating corrosive salts. It should work, but....

Some lots of 7.62x54R are very prone to hangfires. This is very annoying and any ammo with a reputation for hangfires should be avoided.

I'm not familiar with ERA markings. My Enfield has Eddyfield spelled out as such. The primary contractors for the Enfield were Eddyfield, Remington, Winchester, and ? I'm drawing a blank. Amercan Rifleman just had a piece recently on the P14 and P17 Enfields. It might be worth a look for more info.

cornered rat
March 11, 1999, 11:11 AM
Hmmm...had hard time finding surplus ammo. Hunting ammo is $15 for 20 rounds! Surplus, the 228 rd can I ordered, came to $52 with shipping (22 cents per round)...same as .308

I am beginning to wonder if extra $$ for an Enfield or Remington in .308 would make sense in the long run for ammo availability...

[This message has been edited by cornered rat (edited March 11, 1999).]

March 12, 1999, 01:13 AM
Cornered Rat, If you need Enfield info check out the Lee-Enfield Discussion forum at www.gunandknife.com. These guys know their stuff!

Dave Finfrock
March 12, 1999, 02:43 AM
The Ishapore .308 might be a viable alternative. A friend of mine has had two of them and they do shoot pretty well, with a few caveats.

One, the magazine's feed lips aren't right. They need to be reshaped for reliable feeding. A little fiddling, though, and you're good to go.

Two, one of the rifles split its stock repeatedly. I'm not sure what was going on here, but he was repairing the stock every weekend after he shot it. The other gun was completely trouble free. Go figure.

The less troublesome rifle would hold under three inches with surplus Portuguese .308 ($150/M). Not too bad for a $75 rifle...

March 12, 1999, 09:56 AM
P17s have a stock design and weight that handle military-ball-ammo recoil better than most rifles including the Springfield '03's.

Accuracy is usually good if the barrels and actions are up to snuff.

They can be very fine rifles.

cornered rat
March 13, 1999, 11:16 AM
Hmmm...now I see what is wrong with this rifle. The wise guy who did the sportster conversion removed sling swivels!

Any thoughts on the viability of resoring them, making the front set up for a bipod, while at it?

Dave Finfrock
March 14, 1999, 03:28 AM
Sure, add three Millet flush swivels and a Ching sling. Since it's already been sporterized, may as well go all the way and add that Scout influence.

I thought about adding a third swivel ahead of the magazine floorplate of my P17, but with the front swivel/stacking swivel arrangement, things would be pretty tight. I'll probably just stick with the M1907 sling.

I cordially detest bipods; they're best for cleaning and otherwise best not seen.

Michael Carlin
March 14, 1999, 12:05 PM
Unkel Gilbey used a term I like to define for people once in a while, just be make sure we know what we are talking about! :D

Point Blank refers to the range at which the target can be engaged without making any sight adjustment for elevation from the "battle sight setting".

In WWI and II battle sight setting was 500 yards. Point blank range was 500 yards! How so?

Well the target was defined as a standing man, the rifle was zeroed using a six c'clock hold on a round target. The trajectory of the ball round is such that if you hold on the center of a 6' man at any range from the muzzle to 500 yards you will get a hit on his "silhouette" somewhere. The generosity of the target allows a very long "point blank" range since we are satisfied by a strike anywhere on the man.

The trajectory of the round is such that beyond 500 yards, while aiming at a standing man, the round will pass over his head at some intermediate range. This "dead space"
prevents the longer ranges from being with in the definition of [b]point blank[b/].

I have been lead to believe that about 2-3 minutes of angle should be possible with good WWI rifles and ammunition for them. I have a sportized Sprigfield 1903 in 30'06 the has been glass bedded, and it shoots the "pet load into less then 3/4" at 100 yards regularly with the best group (5 shot) ever going into 7/16th of an inch!

Hope this helps to clarify a term often misused in the media. "He was shot at point blank range" meaning very close range (near contact distance), actually means within the range of battle sight zero, could be out to 300 meters or more depending on the weapon used.

For those of you who will now go to your tables and declare this information to be incorrect:

The size of the target is a part of this calculation. Big game animals in North America generally are said to have a vital area of about 5 inches i height.

This limits the "point blank" range to that in which the trajectory will not fall below this target nor impact above it. The trajectory using a center hold which does not impact above nor below the 5 inch target without any sight adjustment determines the "point blank range". For men in combat this is a much longer range than for humane hunting in sportsmanslike manner.


Ni ellegimit carborundum esse!

Yours In Marksmanship


[This message has been edited by Michael Carlin (edited March 14, 1999).]

cornered rat
March 15, 1999, 10:07 PM
Had a chance to fire the rifle. Only had time for ten shots off-hand. Nice. Balances well, the report is not very loud, the kick is not bad at all...weird, I expected it to kick badly. Not sure about accurace, but I will shoot it from a rest next time. Definitely a keeper.

One minor gripe...cannot be stored with full magazine and empty chamber...rearward movement of the bolt overlaps the rims the wrong way. I suppose an Enfield Mk4 with magazines in .308 would be superior...but I like this one and I will keep it.

Thanks all for advice.

cornered rat
March 16, 1999, 11:50 AM
The guy who sold me the rifle said he will add sling swiverls to it, so I can carry it AND add a bipod. Gander Mountain here sells a bipod for about $60 (Harris?) -- could it be any good? I head one vocal opinion against built-in bipods hexpressed on TFL...what about bipods in general, worthwhile?

I do not shoot well off-hand (though proper stance and decent sights helped a lot) but could use improvised supports. ANy bipod users out there care to enlighten me?

Cornered "but cheery" Rat

James K
March 19, 1999, 03:15 PM
Terminology: The rifle made by Winchester and by Remington at their Eddystone plant for the British was the Pattern 1914 or P 14, in .303 British. After the US entered the war, production was continued with changes to convert the rifle to use US Cal..30 (.30-'06) ammo. That rifle was the US Rifle, Model of 1917, with no "P" about it. ("Eddyfield"??? Misreading, I think.) [Of course these are the original calibers; thousands of guns were converted to something else, so a check is always wise.]

Ammo: Most .303 British made ammo is 1) corrosive, 2) erosive, and 3) fouling. If cleaning the gun of corrosive primer salts doesn't bother you, cleaning out the cupro-nickel fouling will. Unless the base is marked with a "Z", the powder is cordite, which is erosive; this is a concern mainly in machineguns and if you fire lots of ammo very fast. There is good ammo for the .303 (S&B for one), avoid the Brit stuff.

Magazine: The rifle was not made to allow closing the bolt on a full magazine, although that can be done on a 1917 due to the rimless cartridge. The P 14 was made to use SMLE clips; the 1917 uses '03 Springfield clips.

[This message has been edited by Jim Keenan (edited March 19, 1999).]

cornered rat
March 19, 1999, 03:36 PM
OK, the ammo I just got from AIM is steel-cased British stuff, made in '44, packaged in '45. What kind of extra precautions do I need to take with cleaning?
I would expect the ammo that recent not to be cordite...am I wrong?

My other order was for Greek 60s or 70s ammo...could that be better?

Dave Finfrock
March 20, 1999, 01:26 AM
Yes, it is Eddystone. I think I was having Springfield flashbacks when I typed that one.

Corrosive ammo can be dealt with by cleaning with hot, soapy water. Old milspec 372 bore solvent will do the job (nasty, aged stuff that it is...). Windex with ammonia is always popular. Ammonia cut with water will work (think 1 to 1, or 1 to 2).

I dont' know about Greek .303, but the Greek .30-'06 has a horrible reputation. Supposedly, it's not in spec as far as cartridge dimensions are concerned. I haven't tried it, but I've been warned repeatedly from several sources to stay away.

cornered rat
March 20, 1999, 01:29 PM
Greek .303 has a rood reputation. British, according to one guy here, is cordite even up to the 1960s...could that be? He also said that Brit 303 was always Berdan primed, brass case. Guess I better go shoot some and find out :)

James K
March 22, 1999, 09:47 AM
I never saw any Brit steel case; I don't think they ever developed the technology. We used steel for .30 carbine and .45 but attempts to make a steel .30-'06 failed.
Not all Brit ammo is cordite (I mentioned the "Z" marking for Nitrocellulose powder),
and cordite is bad only when enough shots are fired rapidly for erosion to become a factor. ALL Brit ammo has Berdan corrosive primers and most has cupro-nickel jackets, though I have seen a few rounds with gilding metal jackets, maybe bullets from the US.

"Point blank" is the range at which no barrel elevation is needed to hit the target. The old artillerymen thought that a shot from a gun went in a straight line for a distance, then dropped in a curve. When they elevated the barrel of a cannon using a gunners quadrant, the zero degree spot on the quadrant (with the barrel horizontal) was unmarked (blank) and was called "point blank" (it works better in French, I think). In theory, there is no "point blank" as the bullet starts dropping the instant it leaves the bore; in practice, the old gunners were right. Shooting at a target at a range of, say, ten feet, will not show any significant bullet drop, so that may be called a "point blank" range.

cornered rat
March 22, 1999, 10:03 AM
What's the significance of jacket composition?

Also, should I remove the action from the stock for cleaning corrosive residue? I am concerend about hot water trapped under the barrel, on the wooden forestock.

Where does the action need oil or CLP?

On accuracy: if a man stood up at 300m, wearing all-black and stood still, grinning at me, I would have a 90% chance of hitting him. If the guy moved, took cover, wore camos, shot back, I'd probably never even see him long enough to take aim...one casualty per 20,000 rounds, anyone? Seems that I got more rifle than skill now.


Cornered "but cheery" Rat
http://ddb.com/RKBA Updated March 20

James K
March 23, 1999, 12:58 PM
If cleaning with water after using corrosive primers, remove the barrelled action from the stock. Don't get the stock wet and use water hot enough to dry the metal parts quickly.

The significance of the jacket material is that most British ammo (and U.S. ammo up into the 1930s) used a jacket material called cupro-nickel, an alloy of copper and nickel. (The same material a "nickel" coin is made out of.) It had many benefits, but one big drawback. It tended to rub off in the barrel, leaving deposits of itself. This is referred to as "fouling." The modern gilding metal jackets leave a little fouling, but it is not significant. Serious fouling can cause inaccuracy and even raise pressures. There are solvents which will remove cupro-nickel fouling; the best known is Hoppe's #9. Don't use it on a nickel plated gun, though. (It cleans fouling by attacking the copper in the bore. But nickel plated guns have a layer of copper undercladding and if it can get through the nickel, it will attack the copper and the finish will begin to peel.)