1917 enfield to .375 h&h conversion


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mohican
July 28, 2003, 11:01 AM
I posted this on another gun board about a year back and received mixed advice

I have a 1917 enfield (eddystone) and am considering having it rebarreled to .375 H&H. I understand that I would need a bolt from a 1914 enfield (.303) which would match the .375 rim.

Part of the advice I received was that it would be cheaper to by a long action mauser already in .375 h&h (I checked cz and other prices, I don't think so) and some people mourned the loss of a 1917 enfield. However, this is a $100 beater rifle, not a pristine collector. If this is technically feasable, I want to do this in about a year.

Any ideas?

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Big_R
July 28, 2003, 12:43 PM
Mohican:

You will spend about $500.00 - 800.00 to make a $400.00 rifle. Check the gun shops, there are a ton of .375's out there. How do I know this? Well, I had a 338-06 made off a beautiful Danzig mauser action. By the time it was finished (barrel, stock, heat treat, assembly, finish, etc.) I could have bought a new 338 win mag from the dealer. The days when money could be saved by sporterizing a military action are long gone unless you do the work yourself. The only reason I had the rifle made was because I wanted a 338-06.

The conversion you are talking about is not that clear cut. All military actions considered for convertion need to be thoroughly inspected by someone who knows what they're doing. You can't just swap bolts from rifle to rifle, they need to be fitted, etc. And, you have to buy most of the parts before work begins. Then if a problem is found with your action, you need another action etc. I'm a firm believer in buying a factory rifle if it's available in a caliber you want.

Ryan

dfariswheel
July 28, 2003, 03:41 PM
In addition, the actions are nearly 100 years old. It would need to be x-rayed or otherwise checked for cracks or other flaws, and be checked for proper heat treating.
It will have to be inspected for any wear or other damage that may cause problems, by a qualified gunsmith, not Billy Bob the gun tinkerer.

The action's cartridge feed ribs might require alteration to handle the new cartridge.

The action will probably require alteration of the extractor, and removal of the "ears" on the receiver rear.

You will probably want/need a new stock, and new sights of some sort.
Then there's the cost of having the rifle re-barreled, the new bolt properly fitted, and head-spaced.

So, this isn't going to be any kind of cheap or easy money saving conversion. It will be a "Just because I want it, and price doesn't matter" project.

Tom C.
July 30, 2003, 04:07 PM
In addition to costs involved, you need to check the serial number of your 1917 to see if it was produced before Eddystone fixed their heat treatment process. They over did it for a while and produced brittle receivers.
At a minimun, the receiver needs to be x-rayed and/or magnifluxed to look for cracks. The bolt can be opened up for .375. Don't need a new bolt. Receiver needs to be cleaned up (rear sight removed), mag opened up, dog leg removed from bolt handle, mag floor plate fixed. Gets into money. Can make a great gun, but at what cost? Consider a CZ 550 in .375 or a Win Model 17. Probably cheaper in the long run.
Your choice.

mohican
June 15, 2005, 10:39 AM
Tom C. In addition to costs involved, you need to check the serial number of your 1917 to see if it was produced before Eddystone fixed their heat treatment process. They over did it for a while and produced brittle receivers.
At a minimun, the receiver needs to be x-rayed and/or magnifluxed to look for cracks. The bolt can be opened up for .375. Don't need a new bolt. Receiver needs to be cleaned up (rear sight removed), mag opened up, dog leg removed from bolt handle, mag floor plate fixed. Gets into money. Can make a great gun, but at what cost? Consider a CZ 550 in .375 or a Win Model 17. Probably cheaper in the long run.
Your choice.

Why would I need to remove the rear sight? What if I want to keep the factory aperture?

And why straighten out the dog leg?

mohican
June 15, 2005, 10:41 AM
Also, what would be the minimum effective barrel length be - 24"?

rbernie
June 15, 2005, 12:27 PM
First off, everybody needs to remember that there is NOT a commercial equivilant of a CRF cock-on-close action out there that you can just run out and buy - the 1917 is about the only platform upon which you can make such a beast. Saying that the finished product would be worth $400 is a meaningless statement when there is no way to get such a rifle other than by the route being debated. So off the bat, I think that the work that's being contemplated here is eminently reasonable to consider.

Having said that, I've never seen any evidence that the 1917's were subject to endemic heat treatment problems (a la the Springfield '03). There have been cases where the original barrel was torqued into the receiver too enthusiastically, and those receivers will show micro-cracks under close examination and should not be re-used.

Dfariswheel gives good advice - have the reciever's metallurgy checked out by a professional. That's always a mandatory step when dealing with an old action. But presuming that the receiver is OK - having a professional gunsmith open up the bolt face, screw on a new barrel, ream the chamber, and refinish the action isn't going to break the bank. If you're willing to finish-inlet and bed the receiver in a replacement stock (Boyds will probably be least expensive) yourself, you could conceivably get the project completed for around $500.

My biggest concern is all of this would be the OAL issue of the magazine and feedramp, and the ability of the 1917 action to reliably store and feed the longer 375H&H shells.

Zeke Menuar
June 15, 2005, 01:59 PM
However, you can rebarrel to anything based on the 30-06 case like a 9.3x62. If you are looking for a big bore thumper, the 9.3x62 will handle anything in North America. All that is required is a rebarrel and some fine tuning.

ZM

only1asterisk
June 19, 2005, 12:51 AM
The Enfield is a fine action for big bore rifle. The action is huge and is really wasted on anything 30-06, belted magnum or 404 based.
I can't see a reason not to buy a commercial rifle, but if you decide to go ahead, you need to have it checked out by someone that knows what they are doing.

Rbernie,

What is the advantage of cocking on closing here?

David

Jwar88
June 19, 2005, 02:11 AM
I used to work on the Enfields way back when they could be obtained in like new condition for what... $60.00 ??? They weren't considered to be collectible then. It was popular to convert them to just about anything, but it's really hard to beat the 30-06 chambering and I like that. I did a few sporters in 300 Mag that were great. The ones that I found had better metallurgy than the Springfields, and I liked the dog-leg bolt.

They are a massive action that enables them to be converted to large bore cartridges, and if I had a spare action, I would probably want it as a 416 Dakota for a dangerous game rifle.

The ears have to go if you ever want to put a scope on it, but that is a pretty painless operation. The dog-leg floorplate will give you an extra round in the large calibers. I always found the hardest part of a different cartridge conversion is tuning the feed rails and making the magazine fit a longer cartridge.

TC

rbernie
June 19, 2005, 04:30 PM
What is the advantage of cocking on closing here? Its primary benefit is that it allows the forces needed to extract the spent shell to be separated from the forces needed to recock the striker. As a result, some folks find it faster and easier to manipulate while maintaining a cheek weld/sight picture.

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