Enfield No.4 Mk I* problem!

Discussion in 'Curio & Relics Forum' started by LDBennett, May 30, 2008.

  1. LDBennett

    LDBennett Active Member

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    I just bought a recent Century Arms refurb of an Enfield No 4 Mk I * made to look like a Jungle Carbine. The barrel apparently was cut down (?) to 19 inches and a flash hider/front sight installed (from what I don't know?). Todays shooting session at 50 yards gave me three pictures on the target of three tumbling bullets in side view. I removed the flash hider and the fourth round also tumbled. I only shot the four rounds.

    The ammo was reloads with Remington Bulk bullets, commercial brass, 180 gr. sold as 303 Enfield specific bullets, using Winchester large rifle primers and 40.0 gr of Hodgdon H335 (a mid velocity load). These bullets have been used in my Mosin Nagant with no issues.

    I inspected the barrel but that was inconclusive. The crown is done right and is clean and square to the bore as best I can tell and correctly chamfered. The rifling looks good and the bullets will not slip into the muzzle butt end first but will go in a limited distance front end first, stopping after the bullet ogive is reached.

    Are the 303 Enfield bullets at 180 grs too heavy (long) for a standard Enfield twist?

    Anyone else run into this problem?

    I suspect the barrel but I can not see anything in the barrel that is obvously wrong. Admittedly I do not have the necessary tools to check it out correcttly. Is it muzzle wear from cleaning? How can that be if the barrel was shortened? The rifling is not very distinct at the muzzle end but it stops a bullet when inserted. The barrel also appears to have a long throat (?). Sure wish I had a bore scope! There are no gunsmiths close to my home.

    Anyone got some ideas?

    LDBennett
  2. Contenderizer

    Contenderizer New Member

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    LD

    I'm no expert on the 303, but here are some tidbits that I hope will help:

    Some time ago I sporterized a MK4. At that time I was told by several sources not to shorten the barrel as accuracy would suffer ... though no one could tell me exactly why. I questioned the mindset knowing that the Jungle Carbine was 19 or 19-1/2 inches. While the Jungle Carbine had accuracy issues, they turned out to be in the receiver and not in the barrel length; but, (guessing here) perhaps the carbine had a different twist. I left the barrel length alone, which is about 25".

    Load data that I have for the 303 indicates bullet weights from 100 gr up to 215 gr, though the latter is a carryover from the black powder days and is used less often today. Your 180 gr bullets are at the "heavy" end of the scale, if you discard the 215.

    The military found the 174 gr (pointed flat nose) bullet to be the best for their application after they made the change to smokeless powder. It is interesting to note that bullets for the MKVII had an aluminum or fiber filled tip with a base of lead alloy. These bullets were longer than normal for their weight and would tumble easily upon contact, thus increasing wound potential. Not mention of tumbling in flight, however.

    According to my 303 load data, a .311 bullet is best when the projectile is jacketed. Cast bullets can be up to .313 Most data seems to be available in the 150 gr bullet weight ... if that means anything.

    The flash protector (shaped like a funnel with a sight on top), was a feature of the Jungle Carbine and likely added at the time of the rehab to emulate same.

    If you reload, I would suggest making-up a few mild rounds using 150 gr jacketed bullets to see if the problem persists. If it does, a trip to the gunsmith seems logical. Let him slug the barrel to see what you have. It may be shot-out, or perhaps you are overlooking a problem at the crown.
    Last edited: May 31, 2008
  3. LDBennett

    LDBennett Active Member

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    contenderizer:

    After writing the above, I inspected the bore again and the rifling sure seems soft (no sharp edges). The bore is shinny but the rifling seems not to be too sharp on the edges. My son-in-law is into surplus arms and I'll have him look at it. He's seen a lot of these surplus military weapons over the last few years and may be able to better evaluate the bore. All my many guns are either newer guns or if older have sharp good rifling.

    The crown is perpendicular to the bore (I checked that) and the crown is chamfered as I did that already. It may be that a shorter bullet that doesn't need such a fast twist might not need sharp rifling. I'll have to figure out a way to shoot a 150 gr bullet without having to buy 100. Perhpas my son-in-law might have a few 150 gr commercial rounds he'll give me.

    If worse comes to worse who has good Enfield barrels for sale? I can find new Mauser barrels and good used Mausers barrels but Enfield barrels, I guess, are not that popular and may be hard to find. I can shorten a barrel if need be and even rechamber it if necessary (which it probably will need). I really did not expect this from this gun that was not all that inexpensive. Hopefully it is a barrel twist problem. I have seen this on my AR-15 clone with a too fast of a twist for light (short ) bullets and had to resort to only shooting the longer heavier bullets starting with 69 gr bullets. This may be the opposite extreme.

    Anyway, thanks for the input.

    LDBennett
  4. swanshot

    swanshot New Member

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    I'm no expert on the 303, but a guy at our club tried something similiar, I'm afraid it didn't work very well. The barrel was way too short, but he did get a fair performance by changing to faster powder and lighter projectiles.
    I believe he settled on 130 gn Hornady and Alliant reloader 7.:)
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2008
  5. LDBennett

    LDBennett Active Member

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    swanshot:

    My next step is to use a set of machinist plug gages to determine if the barrel is consistent in diameter its whole length then try lighter bullets of the correct diameter.

    My son-in-law who is into surplus guns looked at the bore and came to the same conclusion as me: nothing obviously wrong and rifling edges perhaps (??) not sharp. I think a lighter bullet might be less effected by the soft rifling as it has less mass for the barrel to spin up.

    I am not yet ready to re-barrel. Need more analysis and testing to try to find a different solution. But info on the source of new or good used barrels would be appreciated for potential later reference.

    Thanks,

    LDBennett
  6. Contenderizer

    Contenderizer New Member

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    I agree LD, re-barreling should be your last resort. Try some different rounds and talk to Century Arms before spending money on a barrel. In fact, send a certified letter to them so your problem is well documented. They may offer-up a solution.
  7. LDBennett

    LDBennett Active Member

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    As this was purchased from a private party (who obviously knew it tumbled bullets since he only owned it a few weeks) Century arms is of no recourse to me.

    I tried 125 grain bullets of the 303 British diameter and they tumbled as well. So I counter bored the muzzle about 1 1/2 inches using my lathe and a new .368 drill. It appeared that there was some rounghness in the bore in that area that I removed. When running a patch down the newly counter bored bore I noticed a difference. Hopefully that will cure the problem. I'll take 150 gr 303 British loads next week to the range and try her out.

    If this doesn't work the barrel must be junk even though it will pass a .307 plug gage and not a .308 (??). A new barrel was not in the equation for this gun when I bought it. A new barrel would make the gun not worth its investment and I don't love it that much. I might justify it as a gunsmithing project. A good replacement barrel might be OK assuming it shoots OK after the repalcement. But I'm getting ahead of myself as the counter boring WILL work!

    LDBennett
  8. LDBennett

    LDBennett Active Member

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    Well, no luck. Three shots from the counter bored barrel and three keyholed holes on the target. I guess it is a new or different barrel if I want it to shoot at all.

    LDBennett
  9. swanshot

    swanshot New Member

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    Damn---Yeah, Looks like new barrel mate:(:( I don't know what the correct rifleing twist is, but it might be an idea to check it out. I buggered up that way once. :( It was expensive mistake.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2008
  10. LDBennett

    LDBennett Active Member

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    Further investigation using plug gages appears to show a long taper from the end of the chamber to a point 4 inches father down the bore. It starts at about 0.314 at the throat and tapers to 0.308 inches at four inches down the bore. I think the throat is shot out and that would explain the keyholing of the bullets. It obviously need a new barrel!

    So....anyone know of a good source of excellent bore Enfield No.4 or 5 barrels?

    I am considering re-barreling it myself (have a lathe and done it once before on a modern Ruger rifle). Has anyone here re-barreled a 303 Brit Enfield and started with a 308 barrel?

    I know the dimensions for Enfields chamber differ from that of a 308 as do the barrel dimensions but can I use the 308 barrel and the Enfield chamber reamer? I realize the reloading dies may have to have the expander button ground down so that the 308 bullets could fit tightly in the case neck.

    Is there any problem with the transition of the 303 Enfiled chamber to the 308 barrel?

    I can not find an inexpensive barrel in 303 Brit sizing. Using a 308 barrel would allow use of 308 bullets rather than the 303 Brit bullets (typically .310 while the barrels typically slug .314 leaving a mis match that could impact accuracy).

    Any help here would be appreciated. Thanks.

    LDBennett
  11. swanshot

    swanshot New Member

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    A gunsmith friend and I are considering this very thing oursleves. 303/308 chambering. He hasn't tried it before, but looking at it from all angles we can't see why it shouldn't be straight foward. Might haf to make a sizing die for it though.
    We are considering it because of the far greater range of avaliable projectiles in 308. Even here in Aus where the 303 is part of our heritage it is hard to find barrels and they are expensive.
    Did you know they (303, almost all marks) were Manufactured in Aus, at Lithgow.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2008
  12. LDBennett

    LDBennett Active Member

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    swanshot:

    I thought about this some more and it will take a special reamer, I think, as the pilot on the 303 Brit chamber reamer will be sized for the 303 Brit barrel which is several thousands larger than that required for the 308 barrel. The 303 Brit reamer's pilot will not fit into the bore of the 308 barrel unless modified, or has a replaceable pilot bushing, or is custom made for this application.

    Sizing dies push the mouth of the case to several sizes smaller than it should be then the primer stem, which carries a button designed to size the case mouth, pulls the mouth size to the correct size. If the sizing die will push the mouth small enough or smaller than that required to firmly hold a 308 bullet then all that is necessary is to grind or turn the button on the stem down to assure the button pulls the case mounth to no more than the correct size for 308 bullets. If not a custom sizing die will be required.

    This approach may be too expensive to pursue for me for an Enfield rifle. What I really would like is either a new Enfield barrel or a Enfield take off barrel that has an excellent bore and rifling. But the big question is where to find one??????

    LDBennett
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2008
  13. Mosin_Nagant_Fan

    Mosin_Nagant_Fan New Member

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    Last edited: Jun 23, 2008
  14. swanshot

    swanshot New Member

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    Might be better off selling it as a wall hanger and trying again. Bummer, But it happens.:(:(
    The Canadians maufactured millions of 303's, maybe you could find a barrel there.
  15. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    http://www.e-gunparts.com/DisplayAd.asp?chrProductSKU=486190&chrSuperSKU=&MC= has barrels, and the .303/.308 idea will work. you can chamber a .308 dia. barrel with a .303 brit reamer and make a damn accurate rifle. Lee Precision has a .308 expander plug for thier .303 brit dies so reloading .303 w/ .308 bullets is possible... hope it works out for you, im a big fan of the SMLE rifles...
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2008
  16. LDBennett

    LDBennett Active Member

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    berto64:

    That must be a new posting because a week they showed "out of stock".

    Here is where the rifle is. Further investigtion shows the throat to be shot out. There is .750 inches of freebore!!! That means the bullet leaves the case and has to travel over a 1/4 inch without being guided by the barrel. No wonder it tumbles (keyholes) bullets!

    I have returned it to the dealer and he and I have to talk about what we'll do next (he was not in when I dropped the rifle off). Century may (??) replace the barrel for free (??). If not I'll order up one of those barrels from Numrich and fit it myself. But I most surely checkout the throat and rifling first!

    Thanks for the info. I had almost given up on Numrich.

    The problem with the 308 barrel and the 303 Brit chamber is the tooling required to do it. Chamber reamers normally have a fixed bushing end that goes into the bore to guide the reamer in its task of making the chamber. Since the 308 bore is .300 inches and the 303 bore is closer to .308 inches the 303 Brit chamber reamer will not fit into the bore of a 308 barrel. The option is a chamber reamer that has interchangable bushings (if you can find one) and using the 308 bushing on the 303 Brit reamer. The cost of the reamer escalates substantially when you add the optional interchangeable bushing feature, but it is possible, I guess.

    LDBennett
  17. shane-o

    shane-o New Member

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    heh sorry guys, just typed in 303 british. looking to get some wood (stock full wood) have a sporter. I live in Canada and my Late grandfather was in WWII and i am wanting to build a nice memorial for him "great man" just wondering if any on out there has some to buy? thanks guys.
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