Converting an Enfield


March 16, 2005, 07:08 PM
Hello again.

I seem to remember hearing that the action of a SMLE can be rebarreled to fire .45-70, and it seems that I have heard that Gibbs or some other company did just that to a limited number of guns...

So, what would be involved in such a conversion?

There are tons of shot out, bubba hatchet jobs out there that could be used and it wold be just plain neat to have a fast, bolt action repeating thumpenwhacker.

I may just be crazy. (...about Enfield actions that is...)

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Andrew Wyatt
March 16, 2005, 08:46 PM
modify the bolt head and extractor, rebarrel, new magazine. I'm considering doing that to one of mine, since i've access to a full machine shop in which to do the conversion.

March 16, 2005, 10:22 PM
where can a guy get the new mag? this sounds like a fun project. i wanna try one.


March 16, 2005, 11:09 PM
What's easier is converting to 7.62x54R. Bore diameter is the same so the barrel can be retained. Generally, accuracy loss is from erosion, not major loss of rifling. Rechambering to the Russian round can drastically improve accuracy and is safe as operating pressures for the two rounds is almost the same. Also, the bolt and magazine can be retained.


March 17, 2005, 12:19 PM
I know you are talking enfields, but I have a siamese mauser in 45-70. Incredibly smoooth, and accurate with Douglas barrel. Walnut stock is heavy enough to tame the recoil. The Gibbs rifles in 45-70 are punishing to shoot. moodyholler

March 17, 2005, 12:53 PM
This will convert one to 45acp if you are inclined to do so.

March 17, 2005, 02:37 PM
Your biggest problem will be finding a barrel. Gibbs was making No. 5's in .303 and .308, but are sold out and they sold only to their distributors. They are still making a 3 shot, .45-70 on a No. 1 Mk III action. $364.95 through Zanders. Whoever that is. Lotta money for a bubba'd rifle, but at least the headspace would be ok. It's on the Sport Specialty page.

Ohen Cepel
March 17, 2005, 02:50 PM
I like the idea of the 7.62x54r conversion.

Thanks for the info!

March 17, 2005, 03:32 PM

March 17, 2005, 04:02 PM
I seem to remember hearing that the action of a SMLE can be rebarreled to fire .45-70,

okay, but why?

would seem to be a total waste of money.... many cheap 45-70s on the market

March 17, 2005, 04:49 PM
okay, but why?

When you were a kid, didn't you throw a rock at a skunk just to see if you could hit it? Once.

Some ideas just have to be scratched, no matter how foolish it looks to other folks.

Or is that just me?

March 18, 2005, 01:01 AM
Funny this post (7.62 R Russian in a 303)should turn up now, it just occured to me a day or so ago that the 7.62 Russian may work to rechamber to. Decent 303 loads are getting tough to find, there is boatloads of 7.62 Russian loads around for cheap. Just can't get exited about the Mosin rifles.

March 18, 2005, 06:00 PM
Why? We don't need no steenkin reason? :D

Truth be told, I just like Enfield actions and I like the .45-70 cartridge.


That site got me to thinking... That looks awful close to a DeLisle (sp?) suppressed rifle of WWII, the class III weapon of my dreams...

OOOOOOHHHH, I just had a thought...

March 20, 2005, 01:32 AM

that page lists the dimensions of several military calibers. Looks like the Enfield is just dying to shoot the 7.62x54R

Andrew Wyatt
March 20, 2005, 01:37 AM
the .45-70 was the first chambering in which the lee action saw use as a military rifle.

It makes perfect sense, to me.

March 20, 2005, 08:22 AM
My interest in the Lee-Enfield is due in large part to the historical association.

Could you give us an idea of how much and what sort of modification the bolt head and extractor require for the .303 -.45/70 conversion?

Is the replacement magazine "single stack"?

I have access to a good lathe and drill-mill setup....

What better tribute to the original 1879 Lee?

A .45/70 Lee would even tie-in historically with Sharps, who produced the first rifles for Lee at the by then near-moribund Bridgeport works. ;)

March 20, 2005, 09:14 AM
Regarding the 7.62R Russian in the 303, it looks like the 303 has a longer overall length, leaving some old 303 case neck portion of the chamber if rechambered to 7.62R, and the body (powder chamber portion ) of the 303 chamber is also slightly longer than the 7.62R chamber. It looks like the fired 7.62 brass would have a slight "bump" at the forward end of the fired case from the old 303 chamber unless the barrel was set back to clean these parts up before rechambering. I doubt it would hurt anything since they both headspace on the rim, just look funny.

On further consideration, I believe I would lean toward just reloading for 303, and perhaps having the barrel set back and rechambered to tighten up the chamber (they were originally chambered rather sloppy for battlefield reliability)to make brass last longer. I've heard of improvements in 303 accuracy from doing this also.

September 12, 2005, 09:08 PM
After reading the story about the Gibbs Summit 45/70 on yesterday, then afterwards finding this thread I am very interested in making one myself.

Has anyone completed the conversion, and would they be willing to share the details of the conversion process?

Brother in Arms
July 7, 2006, 09:13 PM
Hey guys
not to dredge up this ancient thread but some manufacturers are rechambering semi Bren guns to use 7.62x54R to use exsisting supplies of ammo which are all but depleted in the original .303 british cartridge.

I think an enfield in 7.62x54R would be cool. I think it is an excellent action, on a slightly different note I once saw a mosin nagant that was converted to .30-40

Brother in Arms

September 25, 2006, 03:55 AM
I just bought one the other day! $300 bucks in mint shape too! It's a 1944* MA Lithgow S.M.L.E III*, made or imported by Navy Arms Company of Union City, New Jersey. (I don't know which, I'm doing research on it right now)

It has had a top quality job done with high quality parts installed. The bolt, sling swivels, trigger, mag release, and butte stock are all stainless steel. The trigger and bolt operates smooth as glass. I bought the gun for three reasons; firstly, because I've had Enfileds in the past and love the way they shoot. secondly, I've wanted a gun chambered in 45-70 since the age of twelve. Thirdly, I hope to use it to bag that wild hog this year with it. Wish me luck on my hunting trip!

I'll post some pics of it for your enjoyment.


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