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303 SMLE vs. 308 SMLE

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by FilJos, Dec 6, 2004.

  1. FilJos

    FilJos Well-Known Member

    Hey folks, I need some help.

    I have been looking to buy a general purpose rifle for some time now and I recently got bit by the Smelly bug.

    I love the idea of a rugged, detachable magazine fed, bolt action rifle in a mid-large size caliber. I originally thought that I'd like to make it into a scout rifle, but now I'm not so sure.

    So anyway... I see alot more of the original 303 Smelly's out there, but due to the ammo availability I've been trying to hunt down a 308 Ishapore.

    Is there really any major advantage of one over the other? Does anyone have any sources to purchase a 2A? Seen anything on the internet? I haven't seen anything. At least not anything priced right. I keep seeing posts here that say "I picked up my Ishapore for $90", but the only one I've seen is going for $225.

    I'm going to a big gun show this weekend, what should I look for there?

    If I find one locally, what should I be looking at when I am about to make a purchase?

    Lastly, does anyone know if those Australian M-10's are being imported now? If so, how hard would it be to get ahold of one of those?

    Anything you can tell me would be welcomed.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2004
  2. esldude

    esldude Well-Known Member

    Well 308 ammo is much more available, and much more accurate in my limited experience with a couple of each SMLE's. 308 also works reliably while much of the 303 is iffy taking into account I was using low cost or surplus ammo.

    So I am not telling you anything you don't know. From my perspective unless just collecting the SMLE the Ishapore is the much better choice because of it being 308 for general purpose uses. There isn't a lot of difference in the rifles otherwise.

    Lots of Ishy's get where the magazine slips out after a shot. When looking at one, grab the mag and give it a strong yank to see if it slips out. New mags usually fix this.
  3. rbernie

    rbernie Well-Known Member

    A handful of quick thoughts:

    1) The Enfield magazines are not designed to be detached for recharging.
    2) The No4 will have a better sight than the No1/No2's
    3) I think the build quality of the No4's is better than the No2's that I've seen
    4) Most any of my local gunshops (and generic sporting goods stores) carry 303 british, but it's not as cheap or loaded in as many differing configurations as is 308.
    5) Andrew Wyatt (sp?) was trying to arrange a group buy of the Aussie M-10's, but I've not seen an update in quite a while. I got the impression that they were delayed in importation.
  4. Arc-Lite

    Arc-Lite Well-Known Member

    Ishi 308

    Gibbs Rifle puts out a rebuilt Ishi 308 called the quest... cut down...shoots great...and has everything your looking for... plus. Arc-Lite
  5. Ash

    Ash Well-Known Member

    The Enfield 2A isn't really designed for .308 but for 7.62 NATO. As a result, there are those out there who say it isn't wise to fire .308 in one. I won't get into that discussion, but the original British/Canadian/American produced Enfields tend to come in better condition than the Indian SMLE's. If you want the best shooter, get a # 4 Enfield. .303 isn't tough to get, especially if you mail-order it (and stay away from POF ammo). Plus, if you end up with a .303 that has a worn barrel, you can rechamber it for 7.62x54R which is pretty neat. Anyway, the #4 is a better rifle overall than the SMLE, has the same magazine capacity but with better sights and overall handling (even though I am a big fan of my BSA SMLE).

    I have owned some 2A's in the past that were fine rifles and the Indians made some good Enfields. Some of the ones that are out now are pretty beat up, though.

  6. Arc-Lite

    Arc-Lite Well-Known Member

    .308 / 7.62

    I read ALL the notes on the .308 /7.62 question..and realized the flow...was directed by the way that person wish it to go...so I did the wise thing...and checked the head space... now shoot 308 and 7.62 in the Gibbs Ishi, not a Browning in finish... but it does not rust...with its satin nickel finish...shoots where I point....and goes into the spots I would not take a safe queen, also it came unfired. Check out the Gibbs Rifle site. Go 308 / 7.62 !!! Arc Lite
  7. jefnvk

    jefnvk Well-Known Member

    If it helps any, I bought mine two weeks ago for $100 :neener:

    Check out the used racks in gunstores. Like I heard somewhere 'You don't find a surplus rifle, it finds you'. Heck, before I walked into that store, I didn't even know .308 Enfields existed.

    Anyway, comparing it to my No. 4, I will say the sights are better on the No. 4. Craftsmanship isn't visibally better.

    Here's the thread I started a few day ago on them: http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=113005
  8. Skofnung

    Skofnung Well-Known Member

    The only thing the RFI guns have going for them is the cartridge. As others have stated, the No. 4 is a better gun, all things considered. At least I think it is.

    Now what is this about rechambering for 7.62x54r? WhoWhatWhenHow? ...HowMuch?
  9. Ash

    Ash Well-Known Member

  10. SMLE

    SMLE Well-Known Member

    SOme more info in the .308 vs. 7.62 NATO question...

    Check out this link; http://www.smellysmleshooters.net/ammopressure.htm

    The Ishy 2A1s I have seen and fired worked well and were as accurate as any other service rifle. AFIK, you cand put any Parker Hale aperture rear sight that will fit an SMLE on a 2A or 2A1. They Ishies also use standard NATO stripper clips so if you get some of that Aussie 7.62 in bandos and clips you're all set.

    Now if you want the best of both worlds, the DCRA converted a number of #4 MkI* rifle to 7.62 for Canadian target shooters. The only rub is they ain't cheap. Brian Dick LTD has one for $1195.00

  11. greg531mi

    greg531mi Well-Known Member

    I think the main differences between the two, which I own is the sights, the Mark 4 has the peep sight, and the bore condition. Almost all the Issy's have perfect bores, while the Mark 1's and 4's are variable, from sewer pipe to new. I buy 303 and 308 PMP ammo in SP and FMJ for $6 a box, and am very happy with it, the trouble is that 303 surplus ammo has dried up, and anything left, is expensive. 308 surplus is cheap and in good supply.
    The calibers itself, are around equal, they are great for big game hunting and target practice.
    The other consideration, is reloading, most 303 tend to get only 2 or three reloads, because of generous chamber diminsions. My issy does not have that, and can get more reloads out of the brass.
    It all depends on if you want the 303 or the 308, I think the 308 has more avantages than the 303.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2004
  12. rbernie

    rbernie Well-Known Member

    True only if you perform an full-length case resize each time.

    The 303R chambers are cut large to accomodate a fair bit of dirt in the action. This means that the brass is fire-formed up in size a fair bit when used.. This isn't a problem for headspace and such, because 303 headspaces on the rim. Anyway, if you resize the fired (and stretched) cases, you'll only get so many firings/resizes before the brass is simply worked back and forth too much and cracks.

    However, if you neck-size when you reload instead of doing a full-length resize, you can get very good life out of the cases. I've yet to see any cracking or other signs of structural issues with my brass, and have been retiring cases after 8 reloads just because it seemed prudent. Eight reloads per case is pretty good case life in my book....
  13. greg531mi

    greg531mi Well-Known Member

    But, I have more than one 303 Enfield, and you can not neck size, unless you segrate your cases, and I am not going to take a chance on that....
  14. swingset

    swingset Well-Known Member

    I have 20 Enfields, and I never found neck sizing to present such a dilemna. Unless you're rapidly shooting all of them at once, and letting your brass fall into one big pile, can't see it being a big problem.

    100 pieces of brass for each gun, mark them accordingly and re-use.

    I have some brass that's been shot over 20 times with no signs of failure. Sure beats throwing them away after 2 loadings.
  15. rbernie

    rbernie Well-Known Member

    Twenty, eh? I'm jealous. :)

    I have but two, and I can attest to the fact that keeping the brass separate is a relatively simple affair. In fact, the easiest way to do it is by headstamp - I use PMC brass in the No4Mk1 and UMC brass in the No4Mk1*. I'm not loading max loads, so I use the same load data in both brands of brass and both rifles.

    I've never actually tried to chamber one rifle's brass in the other - I wonder how close the chambers really would turn out to be? I may have to try that with a couple of dummy rounds....
  16. rbernie

    rbernie Well-Known Member

    One more thought

    I've been searching for an available Gibbs Enfield for some time. I can't find 'em on the open market, and Gibbs themselves don't have any. Best I can tell, Gibbs is no longer in the business of making 'em.
  17. Arc-Lite

    Arc-Lite Well-Known Member

    Gibbs rifles

    ...Top of the day.. I just looked at Gibbs rifle site....and it does look like many of the models thay made in the past... are "unavailable" I am sure they know what this means...but I question it...they do have a Mk III 45-70. Try the GA web site... Gibbs themselves will not sell outright....need a dealer... the quest modle....is well worth a search !!! Arc-Lite
  18. rbernie

    rbernie Well-Known Member

    Yes, I did confirm that Zanders does have the No1Mk3 unit rechambered in 45/70. It's too bad it's not based on the No4Mk1.... :banghead:
  19. rauchman

    rauchman Well-Known Member

    Is it extremely difficult to rechamber a .303 SMLE to a 7.62 SMLE? Also, will the 10 round mag from the .303 work for 7.62?
  20. goon

    goon Well-Known Member

    rauchman - I don't think so. The mag for a 308 Enfield is noticeably different from a .303. I have heard of No. 4's being converted but I don't think that it would work with a regular SMLE. The Ishys are made of a better, more modern steel and that is how they are strong enough to handle the higher pressure of the 7.62x51.
    I have heard of them being converted to 7.62x54R though with no problems. It is a cool idea, but someone pointed out to me that you might be trading ammo that is expensive and sometimes hard to get today for ammo that will be expensive and hard to get tomorrow. (Glad I am stocking up on reloading components :D)

    On the brass, it would be best to keep it segregated. I only have one Enfield and I neck size for it. Last week I scored some free once fired brass (along with some bullets and about 20 stripper clips). It wouldn't chamber in my rifle (which I found odd because my rifle is looser than... well, you know what I mean). I had also picked up a set of Lee dies with a FL sizer, so I carefully adjusted them until they were just putting enough on those cases that they will fit in my rifle. Even if I only get one loading out of them, who cares? It was free so you can't beat it. The idea of using the headstamp to sort it is a great idea. Thanks. :cool:

    To those of you who are getting a case life of 20 loadings, what kind of loads are you using? Are you guys using full power loads? I am planning to try and work up a 123 grain load that approximates the trajectory of my 180 grain handloads. I am hoping that this will give me a really soft shooting practice load but more importantly that it will stretch my case life.

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