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.303 British rechambering and identification

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Frostbite, Dec 10, 2018.

  1. Frostbite

    Frostbite Member

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    Once upon a time, I was given a piece of history, a Lee-Enfield rifle, I think.

    Historic sometimes rimes with rusty, it is one of those times. I oiled it today and could not help but notice the rust on the barrel, which is one thing, and the rust mixed with the oil coming out of it by the muzzle as I held it pointed to the floor. I have not yet put a brush into the thing, I want to buy a new one before I scrap the .30 caliber one I have by going in there. It seems to me this could be a candidate for rechambring. The action seems fine, which would have to be assesssed by a gunsmith down the road. Any suggestions?

    Also, I know many here are knowledgeable folks when it comes to older firearms, if you could help me identify the precise model I was given, it would be very helpful as I have to submit this information to my benevolent government for registration purposes. Please don’t judge me for this, I am simply trying my best to be a good law abiding citizen. Pictures will follow shortly. As usual, thank you for your help.
     
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  2. Frostbite

    Frostbite Member

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  3. db_tanker

    db_tanker Member

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    35 Territorian is one I have heard of. Most other popular calibers are there as well such as 270, 25, 22,416 and others.

    For sure I'd get the action checked first.
     
  4. db_tanker

    db_tanker Member

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    Also to add those pics show to be a P14 Enfield. A very good solid action. You have a very nice keeper there sir.
     
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  5. Frostbite

    Frostbite Member

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  6. Frostbite

    Frostbite Member

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    It is marked Not English make. Since an old Canadian gave it to me, I guess it is Canadian. Would you happen to know the manufacturer?
     
  7. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Winchester, Remington, or Eddystone arsenal. All American made.
     
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  8. mustanger98

    mustanger98 Member

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    To add to db_tanker and entropy's comments, the British govt contracted with those companies for Pattern 1914 rifles. (I recall mention in another thread recently that Eddystone was actually a locomotive factory.) The idea was to replace the No1Mk3 with an updated .303 rifle. But with WW1 heating up, the Brits and other Commonwealth countries having SMLE production already in place, the replacement didn't make sense. The U.S., being short on M1903 Springfields, adopted a .30-06 version as the U.S. Enfield M1917.

    If I were looking at a rifle such as yours, I'd scrub the barrel out and check the headspace before I started contemplating a re-barrel. You might be pleasantly surprised.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2018
  9. AlexanderA
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    AlexanderA Member

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    What you have is either a Pattern 14 in .303 or an M1917 in .30-06. Closeup pictures of the receiver ring and the top of the barrel behind the front sight would tell us exactly which one.

    In either case, you have a restorable gun, with the replacement of the stock, handguards, bands, and swivels.

    Do not consider rechambering, as this will destroy the remaining collector value. Give the chamber and bore a good scrubbing and see what condition it's really in.
     
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  10. Frostbite

    Frostbite Member

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    Barrel is marked 303. More pics tomorrow: already took a blue little pill, as prescribed; no gun handling after that (personal policy)!

    The rifle having been given to me, I did not think it had any collector value. It is rusty. I would like to shoot that heavy thing, I thought 35 caliber would be cool. I have nothing against .303 if it can safely shoot it. It would definitely be a less costly adventure!
     
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  11. JWF III

    JWF III Member

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    Definently worth trying to save, if you can.

    Otherwise, those actions are known to be some of the strongest made. Before mil-surps became collectible, and guns were tools for hunting, many of these were sporterized into every imaginable caliber. Up to, and including, the large African chamberings.

    But, please save it. Or sale/trade to someone that will. A P14/17 action, with the rear sight still intact, is still worth resurrecting.

    Wyman
     
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  12. tark

    tark Member

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    I assume it is a .303. Why would you want to re-chamber it? The .303 is a fine round, relatively cheap and widely available. The action on the rifle is very strong, and handloads can bring the .303 to near .308 ballistics. Clean it up and don't be too upset if the bore looks like the interior of a sewer pipe. I have a 98 Krag rifle with a bore so horrible I hesitated, at first, to fire it. It puts five shots into three inches at 80 yards.

    Restoring it is a long and arduous process, not to mention expensive. And a restoration will never be worth as much as an original.

    It can, however be a very satisfying endeavor, resurrecting a rifle back to its birthday suit. The choice is yours.
     
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  13. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

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    You can soak it in white vinegar for a few hours. You would be surprised at how it can clean up. The blueing will dissolve with the rust though.
    I did this to a Krag rifle recently. It has a good bore even though the outside was rough.
     
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  14. boom boom
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    boom boom Contributing Member

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    I have restored a couple of the P14's and like them. They are overbuilt for .303 for sure. There are a few quirks about them though. First, if the barrel is badly rusted then it is not something that should be fired for several reasons that I won't spend a lot of time on. The manufacturer's mark with be RE in a circle for Remington made, W next to the serial number for Winchester although very early serials have some odd variants, ERA for Eddystone.

    Second, most early ones of these will have an asterisk on the bolt and the receiver--that means that it was updated with a slight different barrel and bolt (barrel has a shallow recess to clear a beefed up bolt lug and ejector and head)--these are pretty rare as most were updated. The original barrel breech facing was flat and the bolt/ejector came flush to that bolt like the parent 98 Mauser. This is different from the Weedon repair mark (star in a circle) which were refurbs for WWII.

    Third, a lot of these rifles had quite nice bores because they were not used that much, quite a few (not yours apparently) went through India and were made into training rifles. That being said, if your barrel is toast--it is very difficult to find any other originals. I got lucky and found two back to back which let me retire one where an idiot hacksawed off the front site and did not even have a square cut or finish facing the barrel off. That one I had a gunsmith turn the end of the barrel and recrown it properly but it is several inches short of regulation.

    Unlike the usual English knox form barrels for the Lee Enfields, the P14 barrels are timed with a timing mark on the barrel and receiver and have no knox form. However, removing the barrels on these is best accomplished by a gunsmith and can require a relief cut on the barrel to remove without damaging the receiver.

    If you do have to replace it, there is a new barrel made to do so--Criterion makes these on special runs for the P14 as well as its sibling 1917 in proper military trim. The finish might be parkerized though which the original P14 barrels are blued.
    https://criterionbarrels.com/products/p14-enfield/p14-enfield-barrels/

    Be careful loading these as the .303 P14 can get rimlock from improper loading and sometimes you might have to tweak the follower for reliability in feeding as well. P14 Stocks are around, mostly ex training rifle stocks from India, but some are not from time to time. The 1917 stocks won't work well with the P14 (P14 receivers had a bit shorter feed and receiver/magazine length). The Handguards are also different from the 1917.

    Last but not least, compatibility between the three different factories, especially for the P14 productions was spotty. The major place that this matters is the magazine, the follower, and the floorplate (people use mag springs interchangeably but there is a slight diff between the U.S. and P14). These should be from the same manufacturer and even within these are different variations of the mag boxes which can need to be tweeked for reliable function. Probably one of the reasons the British kept the Lee Enfield as its primary rifle.

    Probably not something to worry about given the stamp Not of English Make,
    Now, there is one variation that is rare but has surfaced in Canada in one of the maritime provinces--the older P13 trials rifle which was chambered in a hot 7mm cartridge. This will be of English mfg. only. If you have one, call a reputable antique gun seller and try to get an appraisal. Even butchered, it is worth something.
     
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  15. boom boom
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    boom boom Contributing Member

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    Quite a bit of the parts interchange with the P17/ U.S. 1917 and thanks to India, the U.S. has quite a bit of P14 specific parts floating around due to importing India training rifle P14's. You might have to patch holes though in the stocks and handguards as these were demilled by drilling a hole through the barrel chamber.

    Not terrible in cost to restore a P14 except for replacing the barrel to an issue type condition.There may be more of those though in Canada and other countries such as Australia that can ship. Given the refurbs, most of these are mixmasters anyway besides the bolt, receiver, and barrels.
     
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  16. boom boom
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    boom boom Contributing Member

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    I would not recommend using any acid including vinegar on a restorable military firearm unless you intent to refinish it. From the pictures, it appears to be mostly internal rather than external possibly from firing corrosive ammo and improper cleanup. External rust and rust within the receiver body can be handled with bronze wool, Kroil and/or Blue Wonder cleaner. It won't remove pitting but it will remove the rust without much damage to the bluing if you clean your tools while doing it. Rust will scratch so you work in small areas and dispose of used cleaning swabs etc. and keep it wet with light oil and or blue wonder. Dry, it will allow the particles of rust to scratch. Wash your wool out or use small strands and throw it away as you use it.

    The P14 has fine bluing with a bit a careful cleaning can remove most external rust. Internal barrel rust, it depends. I would first make up Ed's Red--(the formula is around on the internet) or buy from Brownells where they have already done it. Take the action out of the stock using proper hollow ground screwdrivers (might be rust under the woodline needing to be neutralized) and fill the bore with Ed's Red. Let it sit in the bore. Then drain and scrub with bore brushes. Use favorite deoiling type bore cleaner and then apply patches. Check for fouling, repeat process as needed.

    Then, get some JB Bore bright and follow instructions. Darkness and pitting in the grooves is not great but if you can shine the lands back up, then you might be able to save the bore and have a fairly accurate rifle. The critical areas for rust really affecting the bore is the throat (removing rust can leave an uneven throat) and the muzzle--if the rust is heavy and then removed, you will have little rifling left and the bore may no longer be concentric.

    I have used a homemade electrolysis bore cleaner but while it is cheap, you really need to find the instructions online as I run on too long.
     
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  17. GunnyUSMC

    GunnyUSMC Member

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    I picked up one like yours in a pawn shop for $125. But someone had cut the ears off the front sight. I picked up a DP (Drill Purpose) stock and needed hardware but just haven’t taken the time to finish it. Maybe I’ll make it a winter project.
    AE1FD760-0BD1-414A-9EEF-D0FD9A2C59D0.jpeg
     
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  18. AlexanderA
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    AlexanderA Member

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    There is still enough finish worth preserving, so don't do that.
     
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  19. boom boom
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    boom boom Contributing Member

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    Nice Lebel btw.

    I have one that has been a very slow moving project to restore. Still looking for a stock forend and magazine parts that are cost effective for what will be a wall hanger.
     
  20. boom boom
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    boom boom Contributing Member

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    O/P, there is one last thing that I forgot because these are uncommon in the U.S. Canada had its version of PO Ackley who like to improve cartridges. He came up with the .303 Epps which is a standard .303 chamber that has been improved via sharpening the angle of the shoulders and less taper in the case from what I remember. It is a simply reaming job to change the chamber instead of rebarrelling (don't apply this to Lee Enfields btw). Apparently, this was pretty popular in Canada to do this with P14's. Since yours has been lightly sportered, you might want to check about this.

    The .303 Epps is close to a .308 in ballistics but Epps claimed that it is actually gentler on brass. Epps preferred the P14 for these loads because of its overall action strength compared with the Lee Enfield. http://www.303british.com/id20.html

    Personally, off and on, I've thought about doing this with the butchered barrel mentioned above but then forget about it in the press of other projects.
     
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  21. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Step 1: See what the .303 bore is really like, if fair to good, shoot it and see.
    Step 2: Determine whether you want to put in the time and money to "re-mil" it. Looks like it needs a stock and all metal ahead of the trigger guard. Doubt it is as cheap and common as it once was.
    Step 3: JES will rebore it to .35x.303 for $225. Will you shoot it much?
     
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  22. eastbank

    eastbank Member

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    I would restore it if the barrel is in decent condition inside., I see then going from 500-700 dollars at gun shows and they sell.
     
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  23. illinoisburt

    illinoisburt Member

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    I thought the long gun registry was no more? Since the rifle is bolt action and has at least 18-1/2 inch barrel isn't it non-restricted?

    Anyway, in it's current form as a sporter I would clean the barrel first and foremost. Take out of stock, plug end and fill with your favorite rust remover and let it soak for a while to get the major crud out. Dark and pitted barrels often shoot just fine so long as its isn't too rough. Can always run some barrel paste through to smooth it out. Don't expect bug hole groups, but if it gives you a couple moa it's certainly usable as a woods hunting rifle or fun plinker. I would hazzard a guess that's exactly how it was used before you received it.
     
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  24. mustanger98

    mustanger98 Member

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    That part about the registry... that's what I thought I heard a while back. But that's Canadian gun laws so I could only say check and be sure.

    I've seen it happen. And if it shoots into 2-3MOA at 200-300yds, it'll shoot into a deer's kill zone. That one appears to have its issue sights. I'm wondering what the battle sight zero is.
     
  25. boom boom
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    boom boom Contributing Member

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    "The rifle was designed with a iron sight line consisting of rear receiver aperture battle sight calibrated for .303 British Mk VII ball ammunition at 300 yd (274 m) with an additional ladder aperture sight that could be flipped up and was calibrated for 200–1,000 yd (183–914 m) in 100 yd (91 m) increments and 1,000–1,650 yd (914–1,509 m) in 50 yd (46 m) increments."
    https://www.wikizero.com/en/Pattern_1914_Enfield

    BTW, you can also use Lee Enfield sight blades which are different heights in a P14. The zero for those will be different though.
     
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