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Old September 19, 1999, 09:21 PM   #1
Bob S
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I have a friend who recently bought a .303 British Enfield for under $100. It has some surface wear, but feels very sound. He says he can get me one if I want one. But I have several questions:

1. How does the .303 compare to other .30 caliber rifles - .308, 30/30 ect.

2. How much should I pay for such a rifle?

3. Is it somewhat accurate and reliable?

4. Is such a "cheap" rifle just a waste of money?

It should be noted that I have never owned a bolt action rifle and know very little about them. Any help you could give me would be appreciated.
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Old September 19, 1999, 10:29 PM   #2
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.303 Brit should fall between .308 and 30-06, being closer to '06.

You should pay between $69 and $130, depending on the amount of abuse.

It's a good rifle if you're interested. I prefer the No4 Mk2 Enfields because it's the culmination of all that the Brits learned about bolt action battle rifles. Accesories are easy to get from a number of sources, like Springfield Sporters and Alaska Enfield Headquarters.
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Old September 19, 1999, 11:39 PM   #3
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The #4s were the best bolt action battle rifles ever built. If it is in good condition go for it!!!! I have several and I love them. I'm building a scout rifle on a #5 Jungle Carbine action (it was sporterized when I got it!!) If it ever gets done I'll post the results.

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Old September 20, 1999, 08:08 AM   #4
Danger Dave
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Enfields were carried by the British army for most of this century. IMNHO, it was the best bolt-action rifle of WWI (No. 1 Mk. III) and WWII (No. 4 Mk. I & variants). Accurate, tough, 10 rnd magazine (the Mauser only carried 5, the Garand 8), short action (very fast to operate - you don't have to raise your head to move it out of the way of the bolt), and parts are easy to find. If you want a WWII era rifle, the Enfield is a good place to start.

BTW, it's "cheap" because they made literally millions of them. The rifles are cheap, but the ammo ain't (Seller & Beliot is good).
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Old September 20, 1999, 10:19 AM   #5
cornered rat
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I have a P14 Eddystone (Mauser-type .303 with massive action and great sights). .303 is a great round with mild recoil. Only trouble, most of surplus ammo is corrosive, but some old non-corrosive and new ammi is available. I do, in fact, toy with the idea of a No2 Mk4 or some such as a trunk rifle: the sights and overall handling is good, and it is likely to work in all kinds of weather, even with rough handling. The Enfields run $80 to $150 here, depending on make and condition.
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Old September 20, 1999, 10:45 AM   #6
4V50 Gary
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The Enfield served the British Army for over 50 years and accounted for itself quite well. It was the fastest of all bolt action rifles and there are numerous accounts of well trained riflemen fending off numbers larger than their own.

Concerning the .303 cartridge, it is not as powerful as the 30-06, but then again, I would not care to be hit by one. It was good enough for rendering H'ours de combats then and now.

Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt

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Old September 20, 1999, 09:14 PM   #7
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Go for it!!!! Everyone should have an Enfield or three in their collection. There is no better value in firearms today! IMHO get the micrometer rear sights (adjustable rear sights).
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Old September 22, 1999, 03:26 PM   #8
Futo Inu
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What's the skinny on re-chambering the Enfield to .308? Possible or not? Is the groove diameter .311 instead of .308? Is the chamber already longer than a .308? or shorter? I suppose if longer, then can't re-chamber.

Also, can anyone provide the complete breakdown as to the differences between the numbers 1,2,3,4,5.. and Mk I, II, III, etc. Thanks.
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Old September 23, 1999, 08:02 AM   #9
Danger Dave
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Futo, I don't know about re-chambering one, but the No.5 Mk1 Enfield (I think that's the designation, anyway) was chambered in .308, and was in use as the British army's sniper rifle until recently (it may still be in use - I'll have to check with my Enfield collector friend).

So, in theory at least, it's possible, but it may require a new barrel and bolt - if they're available.
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Old September 23, 1999, 10:37 AM   #10
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I would like to second Futo's request for
a description of the differences between the
numbers and the marks. Perhaps a web page
or a book?

Thanks, Danm
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Old September 23, 1999, 11:41 AM   #11
Danger Dave
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Sorry Futo! I didn't read the whole post!

The "Enfield" in Lee-Enfield refers to the town of Enfield on the northern outskirts of London, where a government arms works was established in 1804 to assemble "Brown Bess" flintlock muskets. The first rifle to bear the Enfield name was the Enfield Rifle of 1853.

The "Lee" in Lee-Enfield is James Paris Lee (1831-1904), a (Scottish-born) American arms inventor who designed, among other things, the box magazine that allowed for the development of bolt-action repeating rifles.

Another important name is that of William Ellis Metford (1824-1899), an English civil engineer who was instrumental in perfecting the .30 caliber jacketed bullet and barrel rifling to accommodate it. A brief biographical sketch of Metford is included in a Metford family history. Further information is available from a descendant Michel Adam Metford Platt .)

The first British bolt-action magazine rifle was developed through trials beginning in 1879, with adoption of the Magazine Rifle Mark I in December 1888. This rifle is commonly referred to as the "Lee-Metford," or "Magazine Lee-Metford" (MLM). In November 1895, changes in the rifling and the sights were made to accommodate smokeless powder cartridges, and the new rifle was designated the Lee-Enfield Magazine Rifle Mark I, or in common parlance, the "Magazine Lee-Enfield" (MLE). Since the MLM and MLE were 49.5 inches long overall, they are often referred to as "Long Lees." Cavalry carbines were also made, with overall lengths of 39.9 inches.

Beginning in 1901, trials were conducted at RSAF Enfield on a shortened rifle, 44.5 inches in length, to replace both the long rifle and the carbine. These trials resulted in the adoption in December 1902 of the Short Magazine Lee-Enfield Rifle Mark I, or SMLE. The Mark I and Mark III models of SMLEs were newly manufactured rifles, while the Mark II and Mark IV models were conversions from MLMs and MLEs.

Recognizing the value of sub-caliber rifles for training purposes, the British War Office approved .22 caliber conversions of Lee-Enfields right from the beginning, such conversions being accomplished either by inserting a tube, or sleeve, in the barrel or by refitting the action body with a new .22 caliber barrel. A significant number of MLMs, MLEs, and SMLEs were so converted, yielding the SMLE Aiming Tube Rifle Mk I and .22 Short Rifles and .22 Long Rifles in various Marks. (The terms "short" and "long" here refer to the length of the rifle--not the length of the cartridge.)

In 1910, the British War Office decided a new service rifle was needed with a one-piece stock and an aperture, or "peep," sight mounted on the receiver. Trials began, and in 1916 the new rifle was adopted as the Pattern 1914 Enfield Rifle (P-14), although production of SMLE rifles continued. Also in 1910, interest developed in an aperature sight for the SMLE, but little was done until after WWI. In 1921 trials of such a rifle began, leading to the development of Mk V and Mk VI trials rifles in the 1920s.

In 1926, the British government changed the nomenclature of its rifles, redesignating the .30 caliber SMLE as the No. 1 Rifle, the .22 caliber conversion of the SMLE as the No. 2 Rifle, and the P-14 Enfield as the No. 3 Rifle. Purists will distinguish between earlier SMLE rifles and later No. 1 rifles, but for all practical purposes "SMLE" and "No. 1 Rifle" are alternate names for the same weapon.

In mid-1931, the No. 1 Mk VI rifle was redesignated the No. 4 Mk 1 Rifle, and after further trials the No. 4 Rifle Mark I was approved in November 1939. A "Jungle Carbine" version of the No. 4 rifle was approved in September 1944 as the No. 5 M k I Rifle. In Australia and India, however, manufacture of the No. 1 rifle continued, with many improvements being implemented. Manufacture continued well into the '50s in Australia and into the '60s in India, with over one million No. 1 rifles being used by Australian and Indian troops in WWII and in later conflicts. In August 1945, a "Jungle Carbine" version of the No. 1 rifle was approved in Australia as the No. 6 Mk I Rifle.

In the years following WWII, various .22 caliber training rifles were developed and designated the No. 7 Rifle, the No. 8 Rifle, and the No. 9 Rifle.

In the 1950s, a number of No. 4 rifles were converted to the 7.62mm NATO cartridge and designated L8 rifles, L39A1 rifles, the 7.62mm Enfield Envoy, and the L42 sniper rifle.

In the 1960s, Ishapore brought out a 7.62mm version of the No. 1 Mk III* rifle, which was designated Rifle 7.62mm 2A. And finally, a number of special purpose Lee-Enfields were developed over the years, including fencing rifles, skeletonized rifles, drill purpose rifles, grenade launching rifles, various "sniper rifle" configurations with telescopic sights, and "dummy" training rifles.

The above was copied from:
They have more info, including some good books on the subject.

Beginner barbarians probably had the idea that every house they broke into would be full of untouched loot and frightened, unarmed victims. It just doesn't work that way, my friend.

I hope these evil men come to understand our peaceful ways soon - My trigger finger is blistering!
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Old September 23, 1999, 01:45 PM   #12
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To paraphrase the above information:
You will usually see the two most common Enfield types at most US gunshows. They are: (in a much simplified form)

1) The No1 Mk III rifle - This is the older style rifle used during WWI and by the Austrailians during WWII. It was also used by India into the 50s. These rifles have wood going all the way to the muzzle and have regular notch rear sights in front of the action. Most of these rifles are older and well used. They were the bastion of the British Empire for many years.

2) The No4 Mk1 - These rifles were used by the british forces during WW II. They usually have the rear sight at the back of the reciever and are usually peep sights. They can be found in VG+ condition and are excellent shooters. They were made by England, Canada, and the US during WWII. There are also some No4 Mk2 rifles out there (made in England). They look just like the No4 Mk1 and are newer.

I highly recommend an Enfield to anyone who doesn't have one! They can be had for around $150 and are great shooters. Look for ammo that has HXP (made in Greece) on the headstamp and on the box. It is really good non-corrosive ammo. Can be had from Burns Bros and AIM Surplus for good prices.


[This message has been edited by Gino (edited September 23, 1999).]

[This message has been edited by Gino (edited September 23, 1999).]
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Old September 23, 1999, 01:59 PM   #13
Gale McMillan
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I have passed on posting on this thread several times because I know the rifle has a lot of followers. But the posts claiming the greatness as a battle rifle was more than I can take. First let me cover the issue of strength It had to be beefed op before it would even take the low powered 308. Where as the Mauser, Springfield, 1917 Enfield and several others will stand any modern Mag. Cart. As for our battle rifles the Springfield was so successful that it became the forerunner to the Mod.70 Win and the Enfield (1917 that is) went on to become the mod 35 Rem. The Mauser has had more high dollar hunting rifles like H&H. Rigby and . many other high dollar custom rifles built on it than any other you can name.. As for reliability in combat well I doubt if any of us can speak with authority on that subject but as a rifle manufacturer I can say that The Mauser , Springfield and 1917 could not be made more simply .or reliable . For you Enfield lovers if they were so great why were they selling for $14 in every supermarket after ww2 and some times for as little as 8 dollars. During the same time the M98 and 1917 and Springfield were selling for closer to 50 dollars. I give it its dues in that you would hard pressed to find a rifle that would sell for a hundred bucks today that would be any better.
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Old September 23, 1999, 04:15 PM   #14
Danger Dave
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Gale, I had a long response written, but IE4.0 went and crashed before I could post it! Ahh, well, it's all for the best, I'll make a short summary:
1) I don't consider having to beef up a rifle to handle a more powerful cartridge to be a design flaw, since I've never heard of an Enfield self-destructing under the loads it was designed for, even after thousands of rounds.
2) The cost of the Enfields in the stores after the war was related more to the popularity of the .30-06 cartridge in the U.S. (for surplus weapons, the more expensive the cartridge, the cheaper the weapon, generally speaking) and the fascination of having a "war trophy" rifle than any difference in effectiveness as a battle rifle.
3) 10 rounds vs. 5 rounds...
4) shorter, quicker action than the Mauser-type actions
5) I never heard anyone say .303 just wasn't a powerful enough round to get the job done
6) I have never heard anyone accuse the Enfield action of being complicated or unreliable, either

But, the Enfield has it's problems:

1) Quality varies greatly, as is the norm for wartime production (IMO, the Canadian made No.4 Mk1* models are the best wartime Enfields)
2) That #$%& rimmed .303 cartridge! Getting the rims crossed-over is not a good thing (and the stripper clips don't work worth a darn).
3) Many consider the Enfield to be butt-ugly. I kinda like 'em, but I thought DeLoreans were neat, too.
4) I can tell you for a fact they don't like wet sand (50th anniversary of D-Day re-enactment experience).

Anyway, that's my 2 cents.

[This message has been edited by Danger Dave (edited September 23, 1999).]
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Old September 23, 1999, 08:08 PM   #15
Robert Foote
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Lee-Enfields are something of an acquired taste. If it had been a US service arm, there would be a cult following for them in this country and the .303 would probably be our best selling cartridge. We would glory in our Lee-Enfield tradition and look down on any rifle that had not been in use for at least a century. The truth is that it was a serviceable compromise and that politics and finances have more influence in the adoption and retention of a service arm than anything discussed in a forum such as this. BTW, my wife shot a 'curio and relic' ($39.95) #1 Mk. III this last week and hit a 1' diameter rock at 300 yds, four out of four,unsupported sitting. The Brits must have done something right.

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