View Full Version : Seeking SoCal 'smith for Lee-Enfield .45/70 rebarrel

September 12, 2005, 12:53 AM
I want to rebarrel a sporterized #1 mk. 4 using a .45/70 blank.

I'd prefer someone in SoCal, but would be open to others if I could ship the stripped action to you. I'm OK with a hobbyist, too.

I want to do most of the job, but I need someone with a lathe (and skills...) for the actual rebarrel / chambering / headspacing.

I'd also like to hear from those familiar or interested in this conversion.

September 12, 2005, 11:22 AM
Ooops, No. 4 mk I. What I mean, dammit, not what I say...

Harry Bonar
September 13, 2005, 02:49 PM
Dear Shooter:
I knew what you meant and I would like to do that too; I'm sure it can be done for there are those offered for sale.
I would like for someone to give us the specs and modifications on such a job. I'm sure, on this forum, there are those who know about this and boy, we'd sure like your secrets!
hanks Harry B

September 14, 2005, 01:27 AM
It's a DIY project for me. I've had a #4 for 25 years that I sporterized and used as my deer rifle. I should probably just keep it .303, but I have a serious "jones" for #4 mk 1 in .45/70...

My old barrel was pitted and dark, and the rifle didn't shoot really well (I mean, you know, good enough, but...). I wanted to rebarrel anyway, and looked at what calibers would be possible. I live in SoCal, and most of my shooting is in thick brush at close range. I also want to go after pigs.

.303 is a fine round, but I saw that the .45/70 is pretty close dimensionally. This conversion is mentioned in "Bolt Action Rifles" by DeHaas, and Gibbs was making them recently. I should probably just buy a new rifle, but I like to recycle as a labor of love.

I've ordered a .45/70 barrel, and will need a 'smith with a lathe to cut, thread, and chamber, along with headspacing.

A lathe is needed to thread the barrel, but the only safety issues are in the chambering and headspacing, so I'm comfortable doing the rest of the work.

I figure I'll cut down the mag and add a floorplate. If I can get 2 in the mag, I'll be stoked. Mine is scoped already, so I won't need iron sights. Refinishing I can handle.

I envision the final weapon as very light and handy, kicking like a mule, and having good knock-down power out to 100 yds. Red dot sight. Black metal. Dark wood. Leather sling and cheekpiece.

September 14, 2005, 07:42 AM
What blank did you order? Some makers will contour and put the threads on for you. That would just leave the chambering and finishing and screwing in the barrel for the gunsmith.


September 15, 2005, 01:34 AM
Hey Uncle Nick:

Thanks for the feedback. I need to do more research and make some inquiries of gunsmiths.

I did a search on "barrel blanks" and came up with some good links for businesses that do this for a living. Turns out you don't need to reinvent the wheel after all...if you've got the bucks.

I know the expertise is out there; I just don't have it.

I didn't get a barrel blank, though, but a close-out barrel for a Marlin 1894SS for $50, so getting it threaded by the manufacturer isn't an option.

I couldn't find any mention of Lee-Enfield among the types of threading done, so it must not be a common rebarrel, which is odd given the large number of cheap LEs in this country. Is there some safety or liability reason for not working on LEs?

I'm still looking for a hobbyist 'smith.

Would reboring be an option for this conversion? Is that what Gibbs did?

I guess I could go to a custom gunsmith, but I really want to do everything but the lathe work myself.

T. O'Heir
September 17, 2005, 01:20 AM
"...a .45/70 blank..." Or a .45 calibre blank? Big time machining costs. You're basically making a barrel. Think $60 plus per hour and up. Pus installation.
"...kicking like a mule..." Not if you change the butt stock too. If you leave the issue butt stock as is, yes, it'll pound you into next week. However, if you put on a wider butt stock and a recoil pad it won't be so bad. The issue butt stock is narrow and rounded. Feels like it aims the felt recoil into your shoulder. A wider butt stock and a pad won't.
"...Is that what Gibbs did?..." No. They have/had money and smithy's(more likely machinists. Ain't the same thing.) on staff.
"...couldn't find any mention of Lee-Enfield among the types of threading done..." It's not. Brit threading isn't the same as North American threading. Different pitch and TPI. Hence the high cost of machining.

September 17, 2005, 03:07 AM
I was wondering what would it take to make the bolt face compatible with the 45-70 ?? :confused:

Seems like a neat little project but I think the bolt should be looked at first since the cost to redo the bolt is probrobly less then investing in a barrel before you know if you can cycle the new round properly :)


September 19, 2005, 05:12 PM
What part of SoCal? I know a very good gunsmith that could do the job in Rialto.

September 27, 2005, 08:52 PM
The bolt face on the Lee-Enfield is flat, and the rim diameter of the .45/70 is not much more than .303 (I don't have the numbers in front of me).

I think the extractor might need a bit of work, but that's all.

October 2, 2005, 11:30 PM
I got the barrel. Sweet.

Thanks to those who suggested 'smiths. I've been busy this week (fires, child care, the usual...), but will make phone calls later this week.

October 8, 2005, 08:51 PM
The Gibbs conversion used filler strips to make it a single stack magazine. Since the 45-70 is a shorter round they had a serious feed problem. Their amateur smiths didn't help. The rest is easy in terms of work, but plan "B" should be in place to turn it into an expensive single shot when the patience runs thin.