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New to me 303

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first303 View Drop Down
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    Posted: October 08 2017 at 1:48pm
Hey everyone, new guy here. I recently picked up a 1917 shtle III (with two vertical lines like this = after the three bars. Am I correct to say its a Number 1 Mark 3?) a few days ago. Wood stock is in rough shape, but metal seems to be pretty good. Barrel cleans up nice (little surface rust on the inside close to the muzzle) and outside has a few specks of surface rust starting. 

I bought it because it was very affordable, and I need a big calibre rifle like this around the farm; something I can take out in all weather conditions, and not have to worry about... like a military rifle. 

I checked the bolt extractor, bolt head (where you turn it and see how far it turns), and the bullet in the barrel wear test and everything checked out. 

Now, I just got around to firing my first round through it, and I think I might have a headspace issue here. The casing of the round (180 grain federal) seems to be stretched or look almost melted in the centre after firing. The live rounds in the box don't look like this. 

The bolt head does wiggle a fair bit when its closed and cocked also. I'm wondering if its time for a new bolt head and if I can fit it myself?

I've read that headspace would break the casing lower, like towards the rim; as opposed to the centre like mine. I'll have to get a headspace gauge and measure for myself, but I just wanted some opinions first as nobody around here that I know of has anything to do with Enfields. Thanks guys!  









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first303 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote first303 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 08 2017 at 2:07pm
I also found that when ejecting the empty case the bolt was quite stiff, much stiffer than without a round in the chamber 
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Zed View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zed Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 09 2017 at 4:10am
Worth checking the headspace for sure; also the chamber's can be a bit large sometimes. Could be worth checking.
I don't have any experience with Federal ammo; but would be worth trying some PPU as it probably has the best brass quality of the current manufacturers.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SW28fan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 09 2017 at 5:37am
Enfields are famous for having very generous chambers.  Fourtunately they handle ruptured cases well.
I have had 2 full case separations and didn't notice anything until I ejected.  Privi Partizan as Zed said has some of the best brass (Norma is great but......).  If you start reloading Neck size only.
Cheers and enjoy your new rifle
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Shamu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 09 2017 at 5:56am
Headspace is very over rated in the L-E's. Being a rimmed case it headspaces on the rim, & only the rim. This is a reloaders problem, not a shooters & the military didn't reload anyway. The bolt head should not wiggle when closed, cocked or uncocked.

If the ammo maker makes a thin rim it's able to stretch a lot on firing. Google will find all sorts of "clever" tricks with o-rings, axle grease oil & God only knows what else to *ahem* "fix" the problem.
My usual advice is have a smith check the headspace first. Make sure he is familiar with L-E rifles though as many aren't. Also confirm he's using the correct (0.0745" "FIELD") gauge (there are 2 standards).
Then quit buying Remington, or Winchester brass its notoriously thin rimmed, & get either HXP Greek surplus or Prvi Partizan brass to use. Don't be put off by the low price, its good ammo.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote englishman_ca Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 09 2017 at 7:00am
Give the chamber a really good scrubbing out with a bronze brush and try shooting it again with a bone dry chamber. See if there is any change. Let us know.

What you have is signs of the case stretching to fill the void of the generously dimensioned chamber. The case is doing exactly what it is supposed to do, stretch and make a seal. Your pic looks to be extreme, but it is a normal thing to see.

The 303 British cartridge was never intended to be recycled. The military fired a new round every shot.

With your chamber, you might have issues if you intend to reload the empty cartridge cases. But there are techniques that hand loaders use to prolong case usage. It is over working the brass stretching/reforming/stretchng that kills it.

Depends on how much you intend to shoot it. Otherwise, shoot and just toss your brass. It's a battle rifle!

The hard extraction might be a dirty or pitted chamber, a ringed chamber, or several other possibilities.

But clean her up spotless before you try to solve any mechanical issues.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MJ11 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 09 2017 at 10:04am
Spot on advice Gentlemen.





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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Shamu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 09 2017 at 10:07am
Clean the chamber by all means, but rotate the brush rather than pushing & pulling as the bristles could get jammed in there.

A grubby chamber or a rough chamber will grab the brass making extraction tough. Some extra resistance is normal as the seal breaks with primary extraction.

Don't forget the L-E is very different in "feel from say a Rem 700, so it may be normal depending on how tough it is.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote first303 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 10 2017 at 6:27pm
Hey guys thanks for the fast replies! 
I don't plan on reloading my brass with any calibre, especially this one lol.

The reason I bought this Enfield was that my Uncle has one, a 1915 P/H sporterized model with a scope, and really enjoys it. He did a lot of hunting with it and such, and got it for a good price as well many years ago. 

I've fired Federal and Winchester ammo from his gun before, with the brass coming out looking pristine; unlike mine with the marks. I also tried wiggling his bolthead when closed and cocked, and it doesn't move at all. Even ejecting the spent casings it easier in his gun. 

Looking at the bolt head on mine, its almost like it wants to pop out of the groove or track it rides on on the right side of the receiver. The bolt head wiggles a significant amount all the way down the track from the action being fully closed to fully open on the track. Looking at the track, I don't see any significant damage, a few scratches and one minor flat spot but that's it; it seems to wiggle consistently down the whole length of the track. Looking under the bolthead, its almost like chrome its so worn underneath where it rides.

I wonder if somebody changed heads maybe? The wear doesn't match at all though. 

I removed my Uncle's bolt, which took several tries with my thumb pushing up on the head to get it to pop up. On mine, one gentle push and its up and ready to come out. 

I gave it what I thought was a decent cleaning, but I'll defiantly do it again more thorough this time. I should have an older cleaning kit with the big brushes I can use on the action. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bear43 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 11 2017 at 7:23am
It sounds to me like you need to consider a new bolt head. The way the one on your uncle's rifle fits proper. It should be tight with no wiggle with bolt closed and it should take a decent amount of pressure to overcome the spring when the bolt is drawn back. However, before going and looking for bolt heads you need to know where your headspace is sitting. The bolt head affects headspace and you will need to know the measurement of your bolt head and the headspace to see if you may need a longer one, one the same length, etc. Also, fitting bolt heads is not just slap on and go. It may take looking at several to find one that clocks in properly on your bolt body.
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