Gale McMillan comments on the Lee Enfield Rifle


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Bostonterrier97
April 3, 2003, 02:24 AM
From: Gale McMillan <mcmillan@getnet.com>
Newsgroups: rec.guns
Subject: Re: Lee Enfield Accuracy
Date: 31 Jan 1996 21:49:13 -0500

Bruce D. Hood wrote:

# In the July 1993 issue of the American Rifleman,C.E. Harris
# shot several different samples of ammunition through a No.1 mk111
# a No.4mk1, and another No.4mk1* made at Longbranch Arsenal in
# Canada. ( The title of the article is "Don't Overlook the Lee-
# Enfield" ) Using quite a mixed bag of ammunition including some
# very old military surplus .303 ball from Bench rest at 100 yards,
# he averaged a lot of 10 shot groups of four inches or so...
# Degree of accuracy is somewhat relative to the task at hand, so
# if one was shooting at soldiers on the other side.. well, I am
# about 18 inches or so wide at the shoulders, and even turned
# sideways am a least 12 inches thick, I don't think I want
# someone shooting at me who can regularly get their bullets on
# the mark within four inches or so of where they want to... It
# doesn't get much better if I'm 200 yards away assuming 8 or 10
# inch groups.. the other guy still has a good chance of getting me..
# My point of course, being that the Older Enfields, which I have
# a great fondness for, are great fun to shoot even at
# the L.E. can be gotten to shoot more target like groups
# if that is one's primary goal.

A few years ago I was invited to build a rifle for the 2300 yard
matches in England. The only requirement was that it would be able to
beat a Lee Enfield. What a joke! Since my rifles held all the 1000 yard
records at the time I felt confident when I told them if I didn't beat
every Enfield on the line they wouldn't have to pay for the rifle. I
should have checked the record book before shooting off my mouth .It
would have saved me a rifle. There is something very unique to the
Enfield that has been explained to me and I still don't understand
exactly what it is. It has to do with the two piece stock and the
harmonics plus the flex of the joint makes every thing come together at
2300 yards. You Lee Enfield lovers check the records of the 2300yard
matches at Bisley. It will lift your spirits so high you will be able
to laugh at us Magnum shooters. Don't ask me how a rifle with a 300 foot
mid range trajectory can consistantly beat out our high scoring Mags.

Gale McMillan

From: Gale McMillan <gale@mcmfamily.com>
Newsgroups: rec.guns
Subject: Re: Varmint Hunters question
Date: 4 Dec 1997 13:38:29 -0500

Theron D. King wrote:
#
# Lee Taylor wrote:
# # I have a non-shooter buddy who is convinced that NO ONE intentionally
# # shoots at ranges over 1000 yards (Camp Perry), since there is (again,
# # his opinion) no rifle made that can hold a group under 6 inches at that
# # range.
#
# Lee, the British routinely fire rifles chambered in 308 Winchester at
# distances up to 1200 yards. The group size is pretty large at that
# distance, but the better shooters keep all of their shots on the target
# at that distance.
#
# TDK

There is an anual match shot at Bisley (spelling?)at 2300 yards and is
consistently won with a 303 Enfield. It is open to any rifle and all
kinds of magnums show up with high hopes and leave with their heads
hanging low.]
Gale McMillan

From http://yarchive.net/gun/rifle/enfield.html

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swingset
April 3, 2003, 04:02 AM
BHP9....calling BHP9.....


All us long-range Enfield shooters know what McMillan found out the hard way. Something special about those guns when they stretch out at distance. But, who am I to gloat? Oh yeah, I'm an Enfield collector! :D

Mk VII
April 3, 2003, 06:29 AM
Hmm. The very longest distances available here at Bisley is 1200yds. I don't think 2300yds could be found almost anywhere in U.K.. Blair Atholl, possibly, or Pendine Sands where they used to shoot off the back of flatbed lorries along the beach. There was an article about it in the NRA Journal some years ago.
Nowadays military actions are fast disappearing from Match Rifle [trans: Long-Range Rifle] and only about 35% of competitors use iron sights and the supine [back] position. The general acceptance by competitors of telescopic sights in this match means this trend will continue. I think scarcely anyone will use the L-E action now. The time Macmillan referred to must have been 10-15 years back.
The .308 Win cartridge is mandatory in this match, a restriction much grumbled at by some as you are entering the transonic region by the time the bullet gets there, a region that you don't want to go. Everyone handloads and non-standard chamber dimensions are much used now, with the neck tight and the body big so that you can squeeze a few more grains into it. There are safety issues here that have led to mandatory chamber dimension tests.

cracked butt
April 3, 2003, 10:28 PM
AN old timer once told me his theory on Enfields. He said that alot of people see mediocre accuracy and don't give them much of a chance to shoot at longer ranges. HE explained to me that if you were to spin a toy top on a table really fast, it would spiral around a point on the table until it slowed down enough that it would stabilize on that point. He said that bullets coming out of an enfield are overstabilized (spun too fast) so they spiral through the air until they slow down enough to settle into the center axis of the spiral through the air. He said its common for these rifles to appear to shoot poorly at close ranges but become very accurate at longer ranges.

His idea sounds somewhat plausible, am I'm not about to argue with him as he litterally lives at the shooting range when he's not reloading and really is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge on old guns and cartridges and alot fo things I haven't even heard of yet.:cool:

John G
April 3, 2003, 10:59 PM
Huzzah! The SMLE does it again! Look out, here come the naysayers...

Andrew Wyatt
April 3, 2003, 11:28 PM
did they change the rifling twist when they switched from the 215 grain ammo?


I'm thinking this overstabilization theory is a good one.

swingset
April 3, 2003, 11:41 PM
The overstabilization theory is pretty sound, tho I don't pretend to know exactly the cause/effect of it, I've experienced it alot. Plenty of Enfield shooters have.

My no4mk1T sniper gets more accurate past 300 out to 600. Markedly so.

I have a friend with an L39XL Enfield (experimental target model that served as the basis for the L42A1). It's deadly at 100 yards, groups around .5", but stretch it out to 300 and you'd expect a 1.5" group, right? Wrong. It will hang at 1" consistently.

Gordon
April 4, 2003, 12:33 AM
Just as I said on other post, I was well aware of Bisley match and the voodoo of the SMLE.:neener:

Bostonterrier97
April 4, 2003, 02:06 AM
Twist Rates on Enfields are 1-10. My understanding is that when they switched from 215 grain Mk. VI Ammunition to 174 grain Mk VIIz Ammunition is that they only changed the calibration of the rear sights, and that they reduced the length of the throat.

Basically the way that Enfield "compensation" harmonics works is there is a slight variation in muzzle velocity from shot to shot (due to differences in the amount of powder and bullet weight), this causes slight differences in pressure and the forces causing the barrel to vibrate. The largest barrel vibrations occur vertically on the Enfield which is why you see a lot of vertical stringing in groups. The lower pressures (or slower muzzle velocities) cause the barrel to vibrate a little stronger vertically (this is because the lower pressures cause vibrations that more closely match the barrel's harmonics or natural frequency.) The result of this is that lower velocity bullets are "thrown" a little higher than higher velocity bullets. When combined with long ranges and the ballistics of Mk VII bullets, the groups shot by the Enfield really start to get smaller in comparison to groups shot by "Mauser" type rifles at around 900 - 1200 yards. Or so most former English and Canuck Target shooters would explain to me.

Gale mentioned really extended ranges of around 2300 yards.

For heavier bullets fired from .308 cases this optimization would extend to the longer ranges which is what Gale McMillan was writing about. Also I think the Enfield Rifles that were competing against Gale's Magnum rifle were built on No.4 Mk.1 Actions which are stiffer and have heavier barrels, so the harmonics would be a bit different than for the SMLE (No1. Mk.III) rifle.

(or so I believe..I never did get to actually talk to Gale about the Enfield, when he was alive, I only talked to him about 50 cal rifles at the time)

BHP9
April 4, 2003, 07:57 AM
For heavier bullets fired from .308 cases this optimization would extend to the longer ranges which is what Gale McMillan was writing about. Also I think the Enfield Rifles that were competing against Gale's Magnum rifle were built on No.4 Mk.1 Actions which are stiffer and have heavier barrels, so the harmonics would be a bit different than for the SMLE (No1. Mk.III) rifle.

Your the first person that is finally making some real sense. I rather suspected this was the case when I first read the top post I.E. that the Enfields Gale must have been speaking of sure were not standard Lee Enfield Service rifles.

Although it is true that extremely heavy bullets do not often go to sleep so to speak until they get out to 200yards, the 100 yard accuracy is not dramatically large as in the case of the Lee Enfield series of rifles. In other words the dramitcally large average groups of the 100yard accuracy of the garden variety Lee Enfield would have been way to large to tighten up even after they got out to 200 yards and beyond.

I could not help but think that if the Lee Service rifle was so accurate at extended ranges that famous snipers like McBride would never have been driven to use other types of military rifles for sniping but instead would have demanded a Lee Enfield for his deadly long range work.

I think another factor that was not mentioned is the fact that of one which most experienced target shooters are well aware off, I.E. Trying to beat someone in their own back yard on a range that they are familiar with in regards to the conditions often found there puts the visitor at a real disadvantage, not to mention the psychological advantage of shooting on your own home range. Few non-competitor type shooters are even vaguely aware of how important the psychological advantage can be.

Mk VII
April 4, 2003, 08:31 AM
i n the days when military ammunition, of indifferent quality and consistantcy, had to be drawn on the line and used the L-E action's compensating abilities had an advantage. Now, with ammunition much improved, that has largely disappeared.

Bostonterrier97
April 4, 2003, 03:55 PM
The only disparagement that McBride had for the SMLE (No.1 Mk.III) Enfield was the rear sight.

(The Brits switched to a rear Apeture sight (sans Windage) for the No.4 Mk.1 and No.4 Mk.2)

Otherwise McBride thought that the Rifle was fine.

McBride also kept most of his sniping to distances less than 500 yards. (I believe that the principle reason for this was that the Telescopic Sight that he had mounted on his Ross Mk.III rifle - the Warner-Swasey Scope (a 5 power scope) wasn't quite up to the task of sniping at longer ranges.)

Also the Ammunition that was used was just regular Mk VII ammunition that McBride and machine gunners found to be fairly accurate. McBride seemed to like Mk VII ammo made by Winchester.

McBride would spend considerable amount of time checking his rifle's zero.

I would like to note that the 7.62 NATO sniping arm the L42 was actually quite accurate enough for sniping at ranges out to 1000 yards. Its biggest deficiency was that the Brits were still using the WWII era scope that they had used on the No.4 Mk1 T rifles.

BHP9
April 4, 2003, 06:08 PM
McBride also kept most of his sniping to distances less than 500 yards. (I believe that the principle reason for this was that the Telescopic Sight that he had mounted on his Ross Mk.III rifle - the Warner-Swasey Scope (a 5 power scope) wasn't quite up to the task of sniping at longer ranges.)

I think I would have to disagree. In my own shooting experience 5 power is plenty high enough for a lot of sniping work. True, a high power scope is better especially when the light starts to fail but I have had no trouble at all with even using 4 power scopes at ranges as far as 600 yards. As a matter of fact I prefer the lower power scope and often keep even high power variable scopes like my 6 to 24 power on 6 power when shooting at long range because I can see where the bullet hits and correct my windage or eleveation according to the circumstances. I cannot do this when the power of the scope is set too high.

Mcbride also expressed his dissatisfaction with the accuracy of the Lee Enfield. He stated it was just not accurate eough for sniping work.

I certainly agree with him. As the distance doubles so does the grouping ability of the rifle. Many Lee Enfiles that I have fired shot an average of about 3 inch groups and by the time the bullet gets to 500 yards and not even considering such things also as wind and mirage you can easily end up shooting groups as large as 15 inches or more.

John G
April 4, 2003, 09:49 PM
Hmm, I've heard this song before...:p

Bostonterrier97
April 4, 2003, 11:49 PM
Australian Snipers during WWI used SMLE's (No.1 Mk. III Lee Enfields) for a sniper rifle

http://www.lighthorse.org.au/Pershist/billsing.htm

Here is a pic of Billy Sing

http://www.lighthorse.org.au/images/billysing.jpg

Here is a link on information on the SMLE's used by Australian Snipers
http://www.iwm.org.uk/online/gallipoli/pdf_files/Gallmark.pdf

Andrew Wyatt
April 5, 2003, 02:05 AM
I certainly agree with him. As the distance doubles so does the grouping ability of the rifle. Many Lee Enfiles that I have fired shot an average of about 3 inch groups and by the time the bullet gets to 500 yards and not even considering such things also as wind and mirage you can easily end up shooting groups as large as 15 inches or more.



that's still torso sized. and with the number4 mk1 aperature sights, you actually have a chance of hitting that under field conditions.

Tamara
April 5, 2003, 02:20 AM
Ref. the No.4 Mk I (T):

"Despite some teething troubles, the new rifle proved very popular and particularly accurate at long ranges. A British sniper in Italy, working with two American observers, spotted a group of Germans at 700 yards' range and, to the disbelief of the Yanks, suggested 'having a crack at them' with his No.4 (T). He scored several hits and reported with satisfaction on 'the expression of utter surprise on [the Germans'] faces at being sniped at. [Their] attitude after this bout of long range sniping was not so cocksure and brazen." (The Military Sniper Since 1914, Martin Pegler, p. 30)

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