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Educate me about Lee MLE rifle please

Discussion in 'Firearms Research' started by BSA1, Feb 18, 2013.

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  1. BSA1

    BSA1 Member

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    I was at a LGS the other day and spotted a military rifle tagged a Lee MLE in 303 British. The markings on the gun are;

    Proof marks on the left side of front receiver. Next to the marks there are three small holes drilled vertically through the receiver

    Serial number 589xx and letter D stamped on right side of front receiver.

    Letter M on right side of bolt.

    Letter R stamped on top of the receiver.

    Letters BA stamped on bottom of trigger guard.

    Serial number on cap on end of barrel matches number on receiver.

    Rifle seems correct to my untrained eye. Battle sights, full length stock with a varnish finish of some type. It is missing the swivel attachment for the rear sling leaving two holes in the stock. The front barrel band is also missing the sling swivel and the band is screwed together by a non-correct bolt and nut from a hardware store.

    I didn’t look at the bore as I did not have a bore light with me. However the muzzle does not have any dings or marks from improper cleaning.

    So how correct is this gun and it’s value assuming good bore?
     
  2. murdoc rose

    murdoc rose Member

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    You missed the most useful info on the gun its self. Under the bolt handle on the barrel band it will tell you the model. It is one of four things not including variants of each..

    If the tag is correct it is a magazine lee enfield rifle made between 1895 an 1906 chambered in 7.7×56mmR.

    It could also be one of many variations of SMLE or short magazine lee enfield and simply mislabeled.

    There is a similar chance that it might be a lee metford or charger loaded lee enfield. (possibly a MLE made into a CLLE)


    There is no need for a bore light since the bolt can be so easily removed.

    I'll add I've often seen guns almost randomly called mausers or enfields regardless of action type or country of origin.
     
  3. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    "Next to the marks there are three small holes drilled vertically through the receiver"

    That doesn't sound good. Two holes might be for a scope sight base, but three?

    In any case, the rifle is far from original and unless is it is some fairly rare model I would take a pass.

    If you want a better answer, we need more information and pictures.

    Jim
     
  4. murdoc rose

    murdoc rose Member

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    Jim has a good point with taps it will mean the stock if undamaged is worth far more than the action.
     
  5. backbencher

    backbencher Member

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    Depends - if it has 1895 - 1898 stamped on the action, it'll be a legal antique.
     
  6. murdoc rose

    murdoc rose Member

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    I'm curious to what that would change backbencher?
     
  7. BSA1

    BSA1 Member

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    I have a lot of photos I will post tomorrow.
     
  8. 303tom

    303tom member

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  9. BSA1

    BSA1 Member

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    Where are the photos you ask?

    Proof marks on the left side of front receiver. Next to the marks there are three small holes drilled vertically through the receiver.

    http://i1251.photobucket.com/albums/hh560/Seldomseen3/LeeMLERifle074_zps8e022360.jpg

    Serial number 589xx,letter D stamped on right side of front receiver and letter M on right side of bolt.

    http://i1251.photobucket.com/albums/hh560/Seldomseen3/LeeMLERifle079_zps5625ffec.jpg

    Letter R stamped on top of the receiver.

    http://i1251.photobucket.com/albums/hh560/Seldomseen3/LeeMLERifle083_zps939a47bc.jpg

    Letters BA stamped on bottom of trigger guard.

    http://i1251.photobucket.com/albums/hh560/Seldomseen3/LeeMLERifle084_zpsb2244b87.jpg
     
  10. BSA1

    BSA1 Member

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  11. fdashes

    fdashes Member

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    Most of the info is missing from the pics. The info really needed is the info under the bolt handle on the band. No matter, the rifle is a mismatch and the stock has been redone. I have seen those three holes drilled into many of the smle rifles but I just can't remember what they are for or why. The BA is the only mark I know...it is the mark that the piece was made in Australia.
     
  12. AlexanderA

    AlexanderA Member

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    The holes are for gas escape in case of a ruptured cartridge head. Those are typical.
     
  13. 303tom

    303tom member

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    It is a NoI MkIII Lithgow built in Australia, the R on top of the receiver is a Armors Mark = Rusted Barrel, the 3 holes are blow-out holes in case of Case Rupture, any thing else ?
    Oh yeah the M on the bolt head means it was made in R.O.F. Maltby, Yorkshire............
    Oh and something else, it does not have a three position safety.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2013
  14. BSA1

    BSA1 Member

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    I don't recall any markings under the bolt. If you look closely here are some markings that are barely visible in front of the bolt handle. What are they?

    The safety has three positions. All the way to the rear locks the bolt, middle locks trigger but allow bolt to be open and forward for firing.

    What is mismatched?

    I suspected the stock has unfortunatey been redone.

    Value?
     
  15. murdoc rose

    murdoc rose Member

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    I would say that's a solid 50$ gun.
     
  16. 303tom

    303tom member

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    Under the bolt handle it should look something like this...............
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2013
  17. BSA1

    BSA1 Member

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    WIth the exception of Post 15 thank you all for sharing your knowledge with me.
     
  18. 303tom

    303tom member

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    I just want to say one other thing, the safety on a Enfield has nothing what-so-ever to do with the trigger. The safety is either on or off, on it locks the firing pin/hammer back & the bolt closed..............
     
  19. BSA1

    BSA1 Member

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    As my post says I am trying to learn more about this type of rifle. I would like to eventually get a example of bolt action rifles used by all of the major powers in the early 20th century so I have a lot of learning to do.

    Based on the responses I am undecided whether to go back to the gunstore and check the gun for the information under the bolt. At least now I know where the most important information is.

    Thanks to all of you for the primer.
     
  20. Legion489

    Legion489 member

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    I tried to access the photos and they were either pulled or shut down. The reciever ring should have all the info about where and when the rifle was built. If made before 1898 it is NOT legally considered a firearm and you don't need a FFL to buy. However....telling that to the average joker behind the counter,,,
     
  21. backbencher

    backbencher Member

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    murdoc, if it was a pre-1899 receiver, even if mismatched, it can be sent through the US mail as it is not a "firearm" as defined in Federal law. That raises the value for cartridge hunting weapons in shooter condition. Someone has id'd it as a No 1 Mk III, made well past Congress' 31 Dec 1898 cut off date, so n/m.
     
  22. murdoc rose

    murdoc rose Member

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    Backbencher that's an interesting point.
     
  23. desidog

    desidog Member

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    The receiver was made in Australia at the Lithgow factory, and the bolt was made at the Maltby factory in England. Hopefully whoever paired the two together checked the headspace... i wouldn't buy it without gauging it first.
     
  24. 303tom

    303tom member

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    Yes you should have the headspace checked, but headspacing on a rimmed cartridge is not as critical as that of a rimless cartridge.............
     
  25. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    Well, that is the myth. In fact, excess headspace on a rimmed cartridge will cause the same problems as with a rimless. The pressure will push the bolt back as far as it can. If that is too far, the case will separate; that is not too bad if the base remains in the chamber. But if headspace is way excessive, the case head will back out of the chamber to the point where it will not be supported by the chamber, filling the action with high pressure gas that will destroy the magazine, bulge the receiver rails, and blow out the extractor.

    Jim
     
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