SMLE rebuild

Discussion in 'Curio & Relics Forum' started by Pistolenschutze, Jun 11, 2006.

  1. Well, I finished up the rebuild of my Short Magazine Lee Enfield, No. 4 Mark I last night, or more properly about 2:00 AM this morning. Isn't it funny how time can get away from you when you're having fun? Anyway, it was quite a lot of work, but the results were definitely worth the effort. I took it out to the range this afternoon and after sighting in, I managed to get 2 1/2-3 inch groups from the rifle with no problem. I think it is capable of better than that, but the loose nut behind the stock may have had influence on that. ;)

    When I got the rifle the stock was, to say the least, pretty well trashed and the front sight would have caused ol' Sergeant Major Higginbotham of the Royal Marines to have a coronary or at least apoplexy. It was wrecked beyond repair . . . even the pin holding the sight to the barrel was missing. I took the front sight completely off the rifle, including the lugs it attaches to and also the bayonet lugs. This required considerable work with a Dremel tool, files and hones, but the results were worth it. It now looks like there never was a front sight. I took all the metal down to bare steel, polished all parts very thoroughly with a Dremel tool (aren't those gadgets wonderful?), then reblued everything using Brownell's Dichropan T-4. The results were well worth the effort; I ended up with a deep, rich blue with absolutely no inconsistancies anywhere on the metal parts.

    The reason I didn't have an immediate heart attack when I took this rifle out of the box was only because I took a close look at the barrel and action before I reached for the nitroglycerine. :rolleyes: The action and barrel were in excellent shape: little sign of wear on the bolt or receiver, a smooth action, a nice, tight lockup on the bolt, and the lands and groves in the bore looked crisp and clean. I put the barreled action into a new ATI stock which fit perfectly. Well, I did have to barely touch up the sides of the stock around where the chamber fits, but that only took a few seconds with a Dremel. The only real problem with these rifles is getting that !@#$ buttstock off! It attaches to the action with a long, heavy bolt that can be a real PITA to get started with a long screwdriver after sitting in the same position for half a century while it is slowly frozen into place with dried cosmoline!

    After restocking and rebluing, I attached an S&K scope mount to the receiver, which, by the way, fits in place of the rear sight. The nice thing about the SMLE is that the rear sight sits over the receiver instead of forward on the barrel as on a Mauser or Mosin. This allowed me to place a traditional short eye relief scope (3x9 Tasco) on it instead of having to resort to drilling and tapping or using a scout mount with an LER.

    This is the first time I've worked with an SMLE, but I must admit, Polishshooter may not be ENTIRELY out of his mind on the quality of these rifles. The Brits don't seem to do anything like everyone else, but their methods do seem to work well mechanically. Not as well as St. Mauser's designs, you understand, but quite well nonetheless. ;) I think SOG has some of these rifles still available if anyone is interested. They're not as inexpensive as the Mosins (mine ran me $169.95), but at least the parts fit together well and the bloody safety actually functions! :rolleyes: I'll try to get a picture posted of the final result.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 11, 2006
  2. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    The only thing I have against the British is their confounding NOMENCLATURE.

    Is it a No.1 Mark III? Or a No. 4 Mark I? Or a N0.5 Mark whatever?

    OK, better yet, is it a World War I SMLE or a World War II, that doesn't work either....HHHmmmm...

    What's the DATE? No that won't work EITHER, Ishapore made WORLD WAR I No. 1 Mark IIIs until like the 1970s oir the 80s, long after most WORLD WAR II SMLEs were discontinued....crap! :p

    OK I got it!!! Is the bayonet for it a BLADE or a TENT PEG? No, that doesn't work, the ones that took the tent pegs ALSO took a knife blade....OK, is it a LONG blade with a HANDLE, or a tent peg, or a SHORT blade with NO handle!?1?

    Eureka! By jove, I think we've GOT it. And just in time for TEA! :D

    ( I know, I know, I was just funnin'ya! If it has the sight over the RECIEVER its the No. 4...BUT I've danced this dance MANY times with guys who tell me they've got a "British Enfield" and I innocently ask..."What kind?" :D )

    And then to REALLY confuse the issue, many times their "Enfield" turns out to be a P-14!!!

    I owned a NICE 1916 Mark III once upon a time, that believe it or not I sold without ever shooting it! I've always wanted another, and can KICK myself that I missed out on those original Ishapore Mark IIIs in .308 that were on the market for like $100 about five years ago....

    And I'm kind of JEALOUS. It took me a LOT of elbow grease and about 300 rounds before I got groups THAT size fromeither of MY projects.... ;)
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2006

  3. Polish I gots a question man. Is this a plain Enfield No. 4 Mk.1 or a special one, all the ones I have seen to this point have a full stock. Or did someone do this theirself? Any info would be appreciated.

    Attached Files:

  4. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    Gosh, Southern, that's REALLY tough to tell. Sporterized Mark IIIs and No. 4s can LOOK very SIMILAR!

    First is there ANY markings left on the metal piece between the two parts of the stock? Those markings, and especially a DATE will help immensely. If I remember right, my Mark III had information stamped on it there.

    The only other way I can figure to tell them apart without any of the telltale sights and distinct stock is the bolt retention lock, I can't remember exactly HOW without looking it up, and it's been awhile since I owned my Mark III, but I DO know they modified it in some way on the No.4s from the Mark IIIs...

    Some other Enfield guy will probably have to help you better than I can. I'm a MOSEEN guy remember?!?! :p
  5. I'll have to check
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2006
  6. It has a M6 on trigger

    33L893 on the metal inbetween the front and rear stock
    L1 on the bolt
    NO4 MK1 (F) FTR/48 LONG BRANCH 1948 on the back of barrel
    Any their are 7's stamped every where on the gun
  7. Southern, Polish is right, it's hard to tell for sure since the SMLEs were made in so many different ways, and foreign arsenals also sometimes made non-regulation changes to those they acquired. My best guess though, is that the rifle you have was probably sportarized at some point. For a while in the 50s and 60s--and even later--thousands of these fine weapons were imported, and since the .303 is such a good hunting caliber (same league as the 30-06), lots of people bought them and converted them to hunting rifles. If that is the case with yours, whoever did the sportarizing seems to have done a good job. It's a fine looking rifle.
  8. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    aHA! You just told me ALL I needed to know, SS...that is a WWII style Post-war, No. 4 Mark I made in Long Branch Arsenal,CANADA! (Hey, I had to throw SOMETHING in to show my smarts, considering it was ALL there to be read! :p )

    They also made a "Mk II" which had a different trigger assembly, so MAYBE your trigger is stamped that way to show it ISN'T a MKII, or just maybe thatactually a MKII trigger? I dunno, but it SOUNDS good, doesn't it? :p

    I've heard that the Long Branch ones are the MOST accurate after the Savage ones, but then again, most of the books I read that in were written by AMERICANS, I'm SURE PS's mythical Sgt. Major Higgenbotham would STRIDENTLY disagree....(as WELL as some former Hindustan Colonial troopers partial to their Indian made Ishapores, or some Aussies and their Lithgows! :p )

    (Why is :p becoming my FAVORITE smiley thingie? :p :p :p :D )

    I digress... :p

    They made them until the early 50s when the Kingdom and Commonwealth switched to the FN-FAL, or as they called it, the SLR. However I read SOMEWHERE that Long Branch MAY be still making it and the No.4 Mk 1 is STILL the sniper rifle for the Canadien SOFs, or whatever they call their Delta Force.

    Which makes sense, because it was (is?) the British Army Match Target rifle, with modifications, and special peep sights like our NM rifles.

    Of COURSE, the Brits ALWAYS get beat in international competition by the USMC rifle team, which in TURN has to shoot pretty durn WELL to beat the RUSSIANS with their match 91/30 Mosin Nagants! And if I REMEMBER right, the Russians WON it ALL in I think 1991 shooting them "old" MNs! :p :D :D

    See? I can lead the discussion to Mosin Nagants at any tine! ;)
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2006
  9. Sad but true, Polish. :D Now, were you to turn the discussion to Mausers we could be talking about properly engineered pieces of machinery, with useful safeties no less! :p ;)

    Hey, I should be getting that 91/30 next week, the one with the laminated stock. I even coughed up the extra $10 spot for a hand pick. Supposedly, the rifles are in "excellent +" condition, whatever the hell that means. I hope it means a really, really nice stock wrapped around an almost new barreled action. Question for ya: With the laminated stock is there any reason not to do light sanding to smooth out the wood and Tru-Oil the result to spiff it up? I'm guessing the lamination is thick enough to endure a mild sanding, but you've had more experience with these than I have. I plan to leave this rifle military style, though if it turns out to be a nice one, I MIGHT buy a good Timney or Huber trigger for it. I will problably add a scope, not because I really want to, but because I seem to shoot more accurately if I can see the damn target clearly, and because I don't want to have that !@#$ bayonet on when I shoot! Makes me feel like I'm shooting a telephone pole. ;)
  10. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    "Excellent" generally is the best rating for milsurp, just behind "unissued," which I ALWAYS suspect... It SHOULD be in pristine shape externally, with at least 90-95% original blueing...

    HOWEVER, there is the caveat they throw in many times "bore generally not considered for collecting purposes" which REALLY frosts my cookies!

    I generally prefer to buy those that MENTION the bore, but I have seen MANY "Excellent" specimens with crappy bores, and likewise have been lucky enough to see and own many merely "good" or "VG" ones with EXCELLENT bores.

    SO that is not a good guide, sorry.

    The "Excellent" Russian stuff USUALLY have like 18 coats of shiney varnish on the stocks, which MOST of the time I leave alone, becasue it looks fine, but if it startes to fade or peel, it can look ratty, but the wood underneath is usually protected well.

    The laminateds are mostly all post war stocks, at best, LATE war, but they are usually pretty pretty :p stocks.
  11. I've encountered the varnish before, and fortunately, it comes off pretty easily with chemical remover. On this rifle I's like to get down to the wood and then replace the varnish with Tru Oil after really smoothing out the stock. I hope I get lucky on the trigger. Some of these old Mosin's have a pretty decent trigger, but some of them are absolutely terrible. It's really a crap shoot.
  12. Sorry to but in but thanks for all the info Polish. I really appreciate it
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