Anyone shoot an SMLE regularly?

Discussion in 'General Rifle Discussion' started by bgeddes, Jul 13, 2008.

  1. bgeddes

    bgeddes New Member

    I have an old Lee-Enfield I bought at an auction 15 years for next to nothing. I've never shot it. Anything special I should be concerned with when firing this piece for the first time in a long time? It has been inspected my a gunsmith.
  2. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member Admin Moderator Lifetime Supporter

    I shoot a #3 Mk1, and a #4 Mk 1. Along with a bunch of other rifles, so not sure "regular" is the word (other rifles get jealous if I ignore them) Issue on these has been excessive headspace due to wear and tear on bolt, lugs, etc-- HOWEVER, if your smith has checked it with guages, and it is good to go, should NOT be a problem. Be sure that bore is clear of grease, oil, last year's underwear, etc. Gas relief hole, left side, just ahead of the bolt when closed- use a pipecleaner to be sure that no dried grease, cosmoline, etc has it blocked. You should never need that hole, but is for emergency routing of gasses to a safe place if case fails. Other folks may have more advice- enjoy shooting, wear your "eyes and ears". may have some more info for you. CAUTION- too much .303 fired in one day may lead to tea drinking, strange accents, and having a picture of Her Majesty above the loading bench. Nice rifles. Found a bayonet for my SMELLY at Southern Ohio Gun. Keeps those M-44 shooters in their place!

  3. bgeddes

    bgeddes New Member

    Exactly the type of info I am seeking. I will double check the simple stuff and I'll probably have to have my father-in-law (gunsmith) double check the headspace. Not sure it was done last inspection.
  4. billt

    billt Active Member

    Here is another website that has a lot of information on just about everything Enfield and .303 British. Bill T.
  5. lucky07

    lucky07 New Member

    how banged up is it? if it's still in good condition clean her out good and try it ... don't shoulder it keep it off to the side at your hip. Shouldn't be any problems. I'm from canada and they were widely used for hunting out here after the war surplus started coming in ... not so much now though. Lee-Enfields had a space allowance around the cartridge for dirt, water etc. they were made durable and stay that way. Make sure the bolt stays down too after you shoot it... some are worn and have a tendency to pop up a little. No big issue unless its too much. One thing you might notice is that your groupings won't be that great (maybe) check inside the barrel to see what the twist looks like. So many diff. companies made them during the war ... some came out great and some have one twist in the whole barrel. Doesn't change safety any just won't be accurate. And don't put steel rounds through it if you wish to keep the barrel half decent.
  6. Ermac

    Ermac New Member

    You shouldin't have any problems with an enfield they work flawlessly.
  7. stetson

    stetson New Member

    I bought one at gun show just haven't had a chance to shoot it yet. It's a nice looking military rifle.I have M1 carbine,mauser k98,enfield and springfield
    left to buy.I have no interest in Japanese as they are poorly built.
  8. Dcomf

    Dcomf New Member

    They may be short on cosmetic features but are not necessarily poorly built. The action whether the 99 or 38, as most here already know, is nearly indestructible. As Ackley mentioned:

    "The design of the receiver appears to be in some respects superior to the Springfield and Mauser from the standpoint of simplicity of machining and inletting. The receiver was not only carefully but even elaborately heat treated. Its heat treatment appears to be superior to the average Mauser, Springfield and Enfield."
  9. CARNUT1100

    CARNUT1100 New Member

    If they are old and worn out with excessive headspace they are not terribly good, the lugs have been known to shear off and the bolt can knock out a couple of teeth....but if the headspace is ok they are one of the best rifles ever built.
    My father had one for years, and the first rifle I ever fired was that SMLE, a No1 Mk3 from WW1. I was 3 and Dad took the projectile out and some of the cordite and made a low power blank for me to fire. It started me on shooting......

    I have a No1 Mk1 that was converted after WW2 by the Australian small arms government factory into a .22 Hornet sporter. The original stock was reprofiled, the charger ears ground off, and the original sights recalibrated.
    I love it greatly.
  10. Northwoods

    Northwoods New Member

    Enfields are great! I used to carry M1 Carbines in the woods all the time because they were a great little "super" .22 plinking gun. Ammo was cheap, too. Those days are long gone, sadly, and now the M1 Carbine is "collectable" so it doesn't get to go outside anymore for walks in the woods (they're worth so much now people will kill yo to steal it!?!).

    Enfield No.5's are my new woods plinking rifle and they are great! Short, handy and accurate when properly tightened and maintained.

    Be sure to check the big buttstock screw that attaches the buttstock to the receiver. it is in the buttstock under the buttplate (BIG screw). If that is loose you get the wandering zero. Also check the barrel fit in the forestock wood.

    There are lots of discussion groups and info on the web. They are great guns, no matter what Mark (Mk) or Number (No.).

    Except Ishapore guns; not my "cup of tea".
  11. Gunnyl

    Gunnyl Guest

    i BOUGHT MY smle IN 1970 FROM A NREWSPAPER AD IN sAN dIEGO WHEN THAT WAS STILKL possible. Ive sho probably 2000 rounds through itbut not in the last fiew years but will start again soon it would pu three round inside of two inches at 100 yards prone no problem.IT"s a 1945 no 4 mkI long branch probanly carried by some Canadian sloder through the end of WW II and Korea. bores are bit worn but still feeds well and put em where you point it. I Pulled all the military wood and put a Herter's sporter stock on mine for asthetics. handes well and looks good. I"ve shot several muke deer with it and use it to hunt elk. am now saving to buy a Garand from CMP.
  12. SoL

    SoL New Member

    SMLEs or smileys as we know em generally are the staple of anyone who owns rural land.
    they are just everywhere, I generally part with between 40 and 100 NZdollars to get one in rough, but totally sound condition.
    Give it a new finish on the stock and polish and reblue some parts and bam, its something worth something again.

    I liked it, boomy and cumbersome. though the ammo we were using was old milsurplus and seemed to have a few milliseconds of delay before firing.
    made it quite interesting.

    Ps Try shooting a rabbit with one of these, you dont even need to hit the bugger.
  13. ozark_al

    ozark_al Guest


    Yes - I shoot a SMLE Mk III - I just shot a 100 pound wild boar with it this year in West Texas.

    It is not extremely smooth, it's not particularly accurate, and it kicks like a mule, but I love it anyway. Without question, it is an amazing piece of history. No other rifle has served in as many armed conflicts over history than the British 303 and in so many ways it represented a move to the 'modern' military rifle, when introduced a century and a quarter ago.

    My advice would be to use it within its' limits. Don't try to scope it -I have found that for shots I can confidently shoot with the open sights, the rifle can make the shot too. If I tried to make 250 yard shots with a scope - well, the rifle is just not quite that accurate.

    It should serve you well - as it did the British Empire for half a century. Enjoy shooting, and owning a piece of history.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2009
  14. 4jeepers

    4jeepers New Member

    :) I do and have a lot of fun with it! It is a strong weapon and shoots well. I purchased mine almost fifty years ago and it still being shot at least once a month! Don't worry about it! Use it! :D
  15. Gene L

    Gene L New Member

    Good rifles. They will, however, develop headspace problems. They were designed so you could change the bolt head to make up for this, and they sold No 1, 2, and 3 style bolt heads, each a bit longer than the one before it.

    Can't find the No 3 boltheads any more.