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Sporterizing a Lee Enfield - my views

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303Guy View Drop Down
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    Posted: August 22 2012 at 4:43pm
The Lee Enfield does make a fine sporting rifle, especially the No4 - if done properly!  I would never consider sporterizing an as issued rifle.  Nor would I want to start drilling holes in an action with the wood chopped up in an early days 'sporterization'.  If an action has holes in it already then fine, fit a scope.  Like they say in medicine - first do no harm.

I have come across a few rifle that have been 'drilled and tapped' for scope mounting by amateur's and the holes are skew and stripped!  One of those was a friends and so I made him a scope mount and refreshed the tapped holes and made the base to suite the offset holes.

But what to do if one wants to sporterize a good rifle?  Well firstly, keep the original wood and other bits.  An SMLE tends to lend itself to a scope mount but that means drilling and tapping the receiver ring and the clip charger bridge.  That we don't want to do.  With some difficulty we can make a scope rail that key's into the charger and hugs the receiver ring so that can be glued into place.  Heat removes the glue should one want to reverse it.  Then do take the trouble to fit decent wood work to it.  By all means remove the iron sights and blue the exposed barrel but hang on to those bits.

If the action has already been drilled and tapped and they are skew or stripped the refresh the stripped holes and match the scope rail to the skew holes.

Here's an example;


If you look carefully, you can see the holes are skew.  (That groove in the bases actually forms a rear U sight notch).  Sadly, the rear sight mounting had been cut off.  The rear scope base is keyed, silver soldered and screwed on.  Not sure why.  Overkill perhaps?  The front one is 'only' glued and screwed.  Notice the mounting surface area?  The glue alone would hold it.

Hear is what one should do with the sight mountings;


I kid you not.  This is my own rifle which I got without the scope mount but which had skew and stripped holes.  I made that rail and matched it to the existing holes.  It's keyed, glued and screwed and had withstood the drop test - literally.  Anyway, that cord and clip are attached to the rifle by a split pin that fits the sight mount holes.  That is actually shock cord and that's how I carry the rifle in the field - clipped to my back pack strap rings.  It frees my hands and save me elbow pain (elbow injury) and keeps the rifle right in place ready for a quick shot or the clip can be unclipped.

The SMLE has a little hole in the clip charger bridge and most folks don't know what it's for.  Some think it's for breaking off the firing pin when capture is imminent so as to disable the rifle.  But actually, it's so one can attach a carry cord like on my No4. Wink


I did drill it out to take the split pin but a smaller split pin that fits should be plenty strong enough so as not to 'modify' the action.  Mine was drilled and tapped already.


303Guy
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cookie Monster Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 23 2012 at 2:19am

I agree for the most part, I would never consider defacing a rifle that could be returned to it's original state or one that is a original service rifle !

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BlackAck Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 23 2012 at 8:24am
Don't

If it's been done, fine. If not, leave it alone. Sell it for something more modern if you have to.

If a rifle can be salvaged, save it for history's sake. Sorry to get uppity but I really don't like sportizing.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sayak Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 23 2012 at 10:03am
I tote my Enfields all over Alaska for the purpose of hunting. They are working rifles. I have lightened them and scoped them, and they kill moose, caribou and black bear. I have put hundreds of rounds through them and enjoy shooting them, but I do not worship them. I'm of the opinion that the men who carried them and shot them in the past would approve what I have done and what I do with them... if they would even care at all. 
It's your rifle, enjoy it on your terms.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 303Guy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 23 2012 at 4:24pm
Well, it is a dilemma.  The Brit is a fine hunting rifle and calibre but is also a fine piece of history.  My solution is to sporterize it without harming it.  Easier said than done with the SMLE if one wants to fit a scope.  But the No4 takes 'no gunsmithing' scope mounts.  Strap on check pieces can be fitted or a separate stock altogether.

I made a fibre-glass stock for someone once.  It had a very high comb and was very light.  It also had somewhat of a Wundhammer swell on the hand grip.  But that one did get drilled and tapped for the scope base.  It came as an action and I had a new barrel fitted.  It only shot 2 MOA groups but that was ten shot and it would do it all day long.  It was also insensitive to different ammo.  The stock dimensions and shape made the recoil feel mild.

Have a look over at scrub bull hunting with the 303 and there is a fully as issued SMLE being used for hunting.  It looks good and it kills those bulls.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BlackAck Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 23 2012 at 11:37pm
I don't want to be known as the guy who wants to put enfields behind glass. If they are as issued, use them by all means, just don't change them irrevocably. If they can't be returned to original condition, then keep em firing as you like and pass on just a bit of the Enfield.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lithgow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 24 2012 at 10:50am
I use my No1 as issued on Donkeys, horses and camels and it works fine.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote flanker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 24 2012 at 4:37pm
My No4 was turned into a stalking rifle by Parker Hale in the 1950s. The L-E made a very nice stalking rifles and many deer shot in Britain would have been taken with these for the next 20 years. This is just as much part of the history of the L-E as it's military function, I see mine a a development rather than a corruption of the original No 4.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Shamu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 24 2012 at 11:00pm
It may have never been a No4!
Parker-Hale bought actions & barreled actiions from BSA among others to build commercial hunting rifles.
PitBull, spawn of Rottie!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cookie Monster Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 24 2012 at 11:23pm
Originally posted by Shamu Shamu wrote:

It may have never been a No4!
Parker-Hale bought actions & barreled actiions from BSA among others to build commercial hunting rifles.
 
Interesting
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote flanker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 25 2012 at 12:07am
True, mine is marker FTR (F) which I think means it probably was. Also it's a Mark1/2 which I also think supports the idea that it was a No 4.
Maybe not, I'm not an expert.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Shamu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 25 2012 at 5:32am
Yeah probably converted to a Mk 1/2 during the FTR at Fazackerley (I can never, ever spell that correctly!Embarrassed) & then sold into commercial use later.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lithgow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 25 2012 at 9:41am
All the commercial rifles I have seen are not dated.
I have seen plenty of commercial long Lees and a couple of No1's but I have never seen a commercial No4. I am not saying they did not happen though.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Shamu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 25 2012 at 11:29pm
I don't know what happened to them, but P-H were buying small lots of No4 Mk2s into the late 40's/early '50's. Fultons were buying small lots too, but in the 30's & 40's not hundreds. I guess for civillian target rifles?
PF 401157 PF 404206 Parker Hale (3049)
PF 361160 PF 361259 Parker Hale (99)
I assume they were selling them commercially in one form or another?






 
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