.303 to 7.62x54r conversion


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Firehand
May 3, 2006, 04:21 PM
I've read the article on this at JPFO.ORG, and it looks interesting. However, the $160 their linked gunsmith charges seems a bit high for rechambering and modifying the magazine. Has anyone here actually done this?

If so, how well did it work, and what did it cost you?

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Vern Humphrey
May 3, 2006, 04:33 PM
You can buy a reloading kit and a lot of brass, bullets, powder and primers for $160. And not have to worry if your re-worked rifle will feed the new cartridge.

ArmedBear
May 3, 2006, 04:37 PM
Why in hell would you want to convert a .303 to 7.62x54R?!?

rbernie
May 3, 2006, 04:42 PM
Well, since the 303R is physically longer than 7.62x54R, either they're firing 7.62 Russian in a grossly oversized chamber or the gunsmithing fee includes taking the barrel off, shaving it back, reinstalling the barrel, reaming the new chamber, and setting headspace. If that's the route taken, then $160 isn't such a bad deal (presuming that you see the benefit in doing such a conversion).

Firehand
May 3, 2006, 05:08 PM
Big attraction to this would be the supply of cheap ammo, some of it of quite good quality. .303 has been getting scarce in milsurp.

You're right, if he's setting the barrel back that would add to it; my brain is tired today.

Carl N. Brown
May 3, 2006, 05:27 PM
$160 would buy a nice Mosin Nagant AND some ammo.
Then you would have the .303 as a backup gun.

ArmedBear
May 3, 2006, 06:37 PM
If you're shooting a centerfire rifle enough that you care that much about the ammo price, it's time to start reloading.

That's the rule of thumb used by most, when we finally break down and get a reloading setup.

Besides, my .303 cost me $100. My 7.62x54R cost me $80. Retail. Why would I ruin an Enfield for $160, to shoot another foreign round?

Turning a beat-up Enfield into a Jungle Carbine lookalike in .308, maybe I could see, but 7.62x54R?

goon
May 3, 2006, 07:31 PM
I asked about this once too. The answer I got seemed to make sense...
Something like "There used to be a whole lot of good inexpensive .303 ammo around but it dried up. What happens in 10 years when the same thing happens with 7.62x54? What you would be doing is chambering a rifle for a round that will eventually dry up."
Speaking from my own experience, the .303 is easier to load for that 7.62x54. I actually think that .303 is the easiest round to load for that I have ever reloaded.
I suggest you get a No.4 instead of a No1 MkIII because it is easier to deal with loose headspace on the No. 4 (this is usually built into the Enfield, usually doesn't affect safety, and is very hard on brass).
But yourself the stuff to reload and shoot good handloads from your Enfield for the rest of your days.

rbernie
May 3, 2006, 08:33 PM
There used to be a whole lot of good inexpensive .303 ammo around but it dried up. What happens in 10 years when the same thing happens with 7.62x54? The difference is that 303R is no longer used as a military-issue round and has not been for decades, whereas the Russians are still using new-production 7.62x54R as a LMG round. It's not likely to dry up in any timeframe that would concern us.

Whether that's a motivator enough to make the conversion is a different story.....

edited to hide the fact that I'm a mo-ron.

DougW
May 3, 2006, 08:53 PM
Usually, the barrel is rechambered for the 54R. Keep in mind that the 54R has a nominal .310 bullet, and the .303 is a .311 to .312. Basically, you would be shooting a slightly undersized bullet, so accuracy could be good or bad. I have some plinker .303 rounds that I loaded with the 125gr sp 7.62X39 bullet (new Winchester). They shoot fairly good, but no real advantage over the 150gr .303's that I normally load. Just an experiment to see how they would do. New brass and components are cheep for the .303. I recomend reloading .303 for the .303.

goon
May 3, 2006, 10:33 PM
rbernie - I think you meant 7.62x54R ?
Eventhough the 7.62x39 is still in use and there are about a bazillion AK's floating around in the world, we still had an ammo shortage for them for awhile. The same thing will most likely happen with other foreign rounds and even if it doesn't, it could.
It is something that I don't trust. My guns now pretty much all fire ammo that I can pick up at a local sporting goods store or a Walmart.
If you are going to enjoy shooting an Enfield (and who wouldn't? :D) or a Mosin Nagant, I think it makes sense to just accept that you are going to have to reload for it eventually and blast with the cheap stuff while you can.

rbernie
May 3, 2006, 10:56 PM
rbernie - I think you meant 7.62x54R ?Bwahahahaaaa - yes, I fatfingered that one.

Good catch. :)

Firehand
May 4, 2006, 11:04 AM
Have a #1 and a #4, primarily handload for the #4, it's the one I shoot most. Use a neck-size die only on the cases.

Personally, would not want to do the conversion. Was just wondering if anyone had tried it and what results they'd had, and their cost.

KadicDeshi
May 4, 2006, 01:22 PM
The only reason I've heard for doing this that made sense to me was throat erosion of the original barrel. If the rifling is still good, a smith could then rechamber the barrel to the longer 54R round and you'd have a much better shooter.

As for how the throat could erode without having completely shot out the barrel is beyond me...

Barrett

rbernie
May 4, 2006, 01:54 PM
The 54R isn't longer than 303R - it's shorter. That's my point.

Clipper
May 4, 2006, 02:55 PM
Sounds like a good conversion to me...Lose the .32 Winchester-like .303 for the .308-30/06 performance of the Mosin round? Sounds like a no-brainer to me...

Vern Humphrey
May 4, 2006, 03:02 PM
Sounds like a good conversion to me...Lose the .32 Winchester-like .303 for the .308-30/06 performance of the Mosin round? Sounds like a no-brainer to me...

The problems are:

1. For the cost of the conversion, you can buy either an M-N and a lot of ammo, or a reloading kit and plenty of components.

2. The Enfield is limited -- changing cartridges won't make high pressures any safer.

ball3006
May 4, 2006, 03:38 PM
There is not much "meat" in the chamber area of an Enfield, especially a No5. What would happen if someone picked the rifle up and chambered a 303 to do some shooting?.....Just buy a Mosin Nagant. They are cheap enough and most likely more accurate than an Enfield.......chris3

KadicDeshi
May 4, 2006, 03:51 PM
The 54R isn't longer than 303R - it's shorter. That's my point.

You're right. After research, I see that 54R is about 0.021" shorter than the .303.

I think it was this that threw me:
Well, since the 303R is physically shorter than 7.62x54R,

That and my only hazy rememberance of the article I read about the conversion in.

My bad.

Barrett

Firehand
May 4, 2006, 03:58 PM
There's also a company that converts Enfields to 7.62x39. Came up with it as a way to use the Enfield with a less-expensive, lighter-recoiling ammo. From what I've read it works well. Problem is, they charge about $300 last time I looked, and their 'kit' for the conversion is about $250.

Carl N. Brown
May 6, 2006, 10:36 AM
The Mosin Nagant round is officially 7.62x54R
The .303 British is sometimes referred to as 7.7x56R.

The British case is longer; the Russian case is wider.
Both take a .311 to .312 inch bullet which is about 7.7mm.
7.62mm about .308 appears to be a land-to-opposite-groove
measure, I don't know for sure.

If quality 7.62x54R ammo was more available than .303 British
(and that would be subject to locality), that might be a good
conversion to consider.

But I have BOTH a 7.62 Mosin-Nagant AND a .303 No.1III* so
I am covered.

Carl N. Brown
May 6, 2006, 10:44 AM
British .303 rifles shot extensively with cordite can have serious
throat erosion but reasonable rifling in the rest of the barrel.
British .303 rifles shot with nitrocellulose usually have uniform
wear for the length of the rifling.
Traditional British cordite powder seems to be more erosive than
nitrocellulose powders.

rbernie
May 6, 2006, 10:48 AM
think it was this that threw me:

Quote:
Well, since the 303R is physically shorter than 7.62x54R,
Bwahahahahaaa - yes, I fatfingered that one. Meant one thing and wrote it backwards.

Sorry...

Limeyfellow
May 8, 2006, 03:46 AM
The difference is that 303R is no longer used as a military-issue round and has not been for decades, whereas the Russians are still using new-production 7.62x54R as a LMG round. It's not likely to dry up in any timeframe that would concern us.

Not quite true there. Canada still uses .303 British for the rangers on patrol, its used by some Indian reserves. Its also seen recent use in the Solomon islands, Afghanistan and Iraq by various forces. The IRA were also rather fond of using them on British troops to go through body armour.

Commercial .303 British is finally becoming more common which is a good thing, but its still about $8 a box of 20 so the cheapest option is of course the reload or one of the surplus finds.

DougW
May 8, 2006, 09:47 AM
Here is a pic of some Canadian rangers with their #4mk1* Long Branch rifles.

Ash
May 8, 2006, 10:03 AM
The .303 is not produced in the quantities that will ensure its availability as a surplus round in the future, regardless of what the Canadians do (except for that truly fine and dandy Pakastani ammo).

The 7.62x54R, apart from still being a sniper's round (and in that role alone, is produced in vastly more quantities than the Canadians do for their rangers), is a general purpose machine gun round, and will be until they invent ray guns as it is acutally a superior belt-fed round over the .308. At present, there is no sign of its use decreasing. As such, there is no sign that continued production of 7.62x54R ammo will slow. The production of 7.62x54R in even the last 30 years is greater than the sum production of the .303 British in its entire run. Now we are seeing the 1950's and 60's era ammo hitting our shores, with some 70's and 80's. Ten years from now, that 70's and 80's and 90's stuff will start showing up (got my case of 97 Russian 7n1 sniper ammo). At $35 per tin plus shipping, a man can get a life-time supply of ammo for not so much money. When 7.5 French and Swiss have long dried up, along with surplus .303, the surplus 7.62x54R will still be coming in.

And, already comercial 7.62x54R is more available than .303 British at a cheaper price.

The re-chambering from .303 to 7.62 article was written years ago and is a good, reasoned concept for a rifle that has been fired with a lot of cordite (which every British rifle fired in WWI and WWII). Heck, a bunch of the POF .303 stuff you can get today is loaded with cordite spaghetti. Anyway, the re-chambering came out at a time when the Finnish stuff was drying up and the re-finished Russian stuff was still unknown. At the time, all that was coming in was shot-out M91's from Albania and some pretty good M44 carbines out of Romania. In any case, the concept was and is to make a poorly-shooting Enfield shoot good again. Is it a good idea and worth the money? Not for me, especially with all the mosins out there (and the relative scarcity and price of Enfields which don't deserve the Bubba treatement). But the concept, in of itself, is not a bad one at all.

Ash

DMK
May 8, 2006, 12:45 PM
As for how the throat could erode without having completely shot out the barrel is beyond me...
Cordite powder can be pretty hard on the throat. There's a British military document about switching back and forth between the two types of powders accellerating throat wear.

The problems are:

1. For the cost of the conversion, you can buy either an M-N and a lot of ammo, or a reloading kit and plenty of components.

2. The Enfield is limited -- changing cartridges won't make high pressures any safer.

Unless you are talking about a Finn Mosin, you just can't compare the rifles. The Enfield has a way better trigger, better sights and a much smoother action. Actually, a nice Enfield even feels a lot nicer than a nice Finn M39.

Concerning reloading, even the cheapest components for .303 Brit ammo cost much more per round than ready-to-shoot surplus 7.62x54R.

I agree with #2 though. I'd be careful about the 54R ammo I shot in it. Some of the surplus can be pretty hot.

Cosmoline
May 8, 2006, 12:47 PM
That's true, but 54R never used cordite.

NateG
May 8, 2006, 12:49 PM
If you just want to have a bolt-action rifle, buying the Mosin-Nagant would seem to be the better use of the money, as nearly everyone pointed out. However, I have heard of folks rebarreling/modifying belt-feds to shoot the cheap surplus du jour. To this unknowlegable-about-the-details guy, having a maxim, or whatever, modified from .303 to 7.62x54R (or a 1919 from .30-06 to 8mm, etc.) sounds like a decent idea, especially if the modifications were reverseable. I'm not sure what the current prices for 7.62x54R is, but last time I bought some it was $.07/round, and that's tough to beat, even reloading. But for a bolt gun, not so sure. I guess if you're a real fan of the Lee-Enfield action, and you want to shoot the cheap ammo, I won't fault you for it. I'd just buy another mosin instead.

DMK
May 8, 2006, 12:55 PM
That's true, but 54R never used cordite.The Brit document was about shooting newer nitro based .303 ammo and older cordite .303 ammo in the same guns.

gopguy
May 8, 2006, 01:36 PM
I still see .303 British ammo at the shows, I have not paid much attention to the prices as I bought a few cases back in the early 90s when a bunch of Mark III and No.4 rifles came in. You are still dealing with a rimmed cartridge....I just don't see this as very logical...:scrutiny:

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