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High pressure warnings

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britrifles View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote britrifles Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 26 2020 at 6:25pm
Goosic, I believe you effectively have .308 Winchester dimensioned chambers in your No. 4 rifles, as evidenced by the 1.638 gage not allowing the bolt to close.  The bolt probably won’t close on the .308  NoGo gage (typically 1.634 to 1.636 inches).  You have installed the barrel and headspaced accordingly to .308 specs.

The problem, as described by the article, is when using light commercial .308 Winchester cases in a 7.62 NATO chamber that is on the long side of acceptable (to 7.62 NATO dimensions, which were purposely made longer to ensure reliable machine gun functioning).  The brass is too thin to stretch far enough to fit the chamber on firing, hence the case wall thinning and possible ruptures.  Some of the commercial cases (e.g. Winchester) is very thin, 30 grains lighter than 7.62 NATO brass.   I believe this is what happened to Frameman 1, it was not the load, it was thin light brass fired in a long chamber.  The elementary excessive headspace problem. 

In your rifles, a .308 Winchester commercial cartridge is likely perfectly safe, but if it were me, I would still not use commercial ammo for the reason that typical commercial .308 ammo is loaded to higher pressures than typical .303 Mk 7 ball ammo for which the No. 4 action was designed to shoot.  The long term effects of shooting higher pressure ammo will take its toll in barrel and action wear.  Reloading gives you full control of this, you can load it to pressures and velocities even less than .303 British. 

When I first started loading .308 cartridges for my DCRA converted rifles almost 20 years ago, I used Canadian 7.62 ball cases with the 168 SMK loaded to velocities equivalent to .303 Mk 7 ammunition (approx 2440 fps).  I didn’t know where else to start, so I used .303 British load tables for the 174 gr SMK.  I was very apprehensive to use .308 load tables.  Charge weights I selected were at or below .308 published minimums.  I did knot know the headspace issues at the time, but I have since found out that the headspace is well within .308 Win SAAMI specs on both my DCRA converted No. 4 rifles.  It might even be shorter than NATO minimums, these rifles were assembled by Long Branch and not intended for active service, so a tighter headspace makes sense. 




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Goosic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 26 2020 at 7:10pm
     For all intents and purposes,  I do have 3 rifles chambered for the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge, no doubt about that. 
  However, all three barrels have been machined accordingly to index properly onto the No4 reciever. The  bolthead has been reduced in overall length until the bolt starts its downwards travel to just 1/3rd of the total bolt travel while still allowing the bolt to easily close on a loaded round without any fore or aft movements. The final step was to find an acceptable reload with minimal pressure values. When cross referencing between the "168grn Mexican Match Round" and Hodgdons load data for the same 168grn BTHP, the happy medium was a round producing just under 44,000 psi on the Piezo Scale. When actual tests began, I noticed that rifle recoil was reduced dramatically, no noticable case bulging as well. I am reloading to 308 specifications and using it in a 7.62x51mm chambered rifle.
 The warnings about firing 308 ammunition in a 7.62x51mm chambered rifle that have been repeatedly hammered forth should not apply to my specific situation in my honest opinion. I will continue to reload my ammunition using the 168grn BTHP and a charge weight of 41.7grn using IMR4064 powder and will be forthright and magnanimous in accepting the consequences thereof if a situation should ever arise. There are obviously two sides to every coin. My coin will always be different than the norm from what I see and know. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The Armourer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 27 2020 at 12:38am
Originally posted by Goosic Goosic wrote:

At what point does it go from 7.62x51mm to 308 or vise versa when you handload using baseline reloading data? My No4Mk1/2 has a 2A1 Ishapore barrel screwed onto the reciever.  The headspace is as such that a Forster 1.638" gauge inserted into the chamber will not let the bolt close at all. The bolt will rotate downwards 1/3rd of the total travel and stop. The full length sizing die is setup that every case run through it and checked using a case gauge passes with flying colors. After firing the handload, the case is removed and checked for any signs of overpressure, deformations, irregularities, and cracks. The only time a crack in the case is observed is when that particular batch has reached the end of its life as far as resizing goes. The same is said for a case that cannot hold a primer safely any longer. If during the priming process it is found that a primer seats too loosely, that case is tossed,regardless. My point to all this is: If all my shooting equipment and reloaded ammunition have passed all the criteria based off of published data and data I have accumulated on my own based off of my own knowledgeable experience. Where does it become unsafe to load a cartridge that in affect, is a 308 Winchester round into my rifle that is chambered for the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge and fire said cartridge?

Could it be that you have a particularly 'short' headspace on your 2A barreled rifles because you had to remove metal, and, in effect, shorten the breech to allow the barrel an extra 180 degrees of rotation to align the 2A barrels with the No4 action and extractor slot ?


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote britrifles Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 27 2020 at 3:53am
Originally posted by The Armourer The Armourer wrote:


Could it be that you have a particularly 'short' headspace on your 2A barreled rifles because you had to remove metal, and, in effect, shorten the breech to allow the barrel an extra 180 degrees of rotation to align the 2A barrels with the No4 action and extractor slot ?



This is my point.  Even though the barrel started out as a 7.62 chamber length per Ishapore specification, it has now been modified by removing metal from the end of the barrel and the bolt head modified such that the headspace now conforms to .308 SAAMI specification.  For all intents and purposes, it is now a .308 chambered rifle and not a 7.62.  

This modification is similar to how .303 barrels were modified by DCRA the early 1960’s to .308 specification prior to purpose built .308/7.62 chambered barrels made by Long Branch.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Goosic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 27 2020 at 6:07am
I never removed any metal from the face of the chamber. I removed metal from the portion of the barrel that contacts the reciever near to the knox form. The chamber length was left alone. The area circled is where metal was removed from.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote britrifles Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 27 2020 at 9:28am
Yes, but this effectively brought the shoulder of the chamber closer to the bolt face, and shortened headspace.  If your bolt does not close on a SAAMI .308 field gage, then the chamber is suitable to fire .308 ammunition.  If the bolt does not close on a SAAMI .308 NoGo gage, then it is equivalent to a .308 chamber as produced for factory .308 commercial rifles.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Goosic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 27 2020 at 10:00am
The inner dimensions of the chamber, ie: length, height, circumference,  where never altered and are still to 7.62x51mm NATO specifications. Using 308 commercial ammunition would still create undue stresses with excessive chamber pressure not conducive to 7.62x51mm chamberings then, correct? By your line of reasoning though.  If a 7.62x51mm NATO chambered rifles headspacing was as such that the bolt does not close on a SAAMI spec NoGo gauge, then using commercial ammunition would fundamentally be sufficient...

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote britrifles Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 27 2020 at 11:30am
Originally posted by Goosic Goosic wrote:

If a 7.62x51mm NATO chambered rifles headspacing was as such that the bolt does not close on a SAAMI spec NoGo gauge, then using commercial ammunition would fundamentally be sufficient...


Yes, I believe so.  Here is why:  

Your 7.62 converted rifles have a chamber dimensioned appropriate to the .308 SAAMI standards, at least in terms of the critical headspace dimension.  Other differences are likely very minor.   

The danger is shooting .308 Win ammo that has thin case walls in 7.62 chambers which are at or near the NATO MAX. This does not apply to the rifles you built because you effectively shortened the headspace to SAAMI standards.

But, this caution may well apply to many Ishapore 2A rifles.  If I had a 2A, I would get myself a set of the three SAAMI gages and the Min/Max 7.62 NATO gages to figure out what the chamber headspace is.  If it was at or longer than .308 FIELD, I would not fire .308 commercial ammo or .308 commercial brass in reloads.  I would get myself some 7.62 NATO brass and load mild charges using .308 load tables providing the headspace was not over 7.62 MAX.  Headspace 101.  




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zed Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 27 2020 at 11:50am
This is an interesting subject; and I think it's been discussed on a few occasions. 
I'd like to add some of my own experiences when testing and reloading for my L39A1 which is 7.62 NATO specification and proofed to 19 tons per square inch. It is not proofed for .308 commercial (20 tons per square/inch)
When I got the rifle I was told by a French Amoury that I could shoot .308 factory loads. I had my doubts and decided to investigate and do a few tests using the chronometer to check the velocity. 
This seems to be the only option open to us as we don't have the capacity to measure pressure.

I tried 3 different .308 bullets recommended the Armoury. All of those gave velocities than the 7.62 NATO spec. All the .308 's also had heavier bullets. One was close to 2900 ft/ second. I stopped the test very quickly when seeing these velocities and the felt recoil. I believe that 7.62 NATO spec is 144 grain ogives and around 2650/2700 feet per second.

So now I reload using .308 components; usually Lapua cases and 155 grain SMK bullets.
Using the Lapua cases and 40.5 grains of Vectan SP7 I'm getting around 2525 feet per second, which feels OK.
Last weekend I tested some GGG made NATO cases, same SMK ogive and 39.8 grains of the same SP7 powder. This gave almost identical velocities to the  Lapua with 40.5 grains. 
Seeing as these bullets are lighter than the 174 gr .303 British; I feel that it's within a safe range. 
I have recently purchased some 144 grain NATO ogives for reloading to compare.

Looking at the 7.62 Match round mentioned using the 175 grain ogive. I suspect that it's been made for Modern specialist military rifles; either sniper or target rifles. It is not a standard NATO round and therefore not suitable for the 7.62 Enfield's in my opinion.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Frameman 1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 27 2020 at 12:15pm
Originally posted by britrifles britrifles wrote:

We would have to get some actual 7.62 Special Ball Mk 316 cartridges, it is curious that 7.62 NATO headstamped cases are not the more typical heavier brass, which from my sample has an average weight of 185 grains.  

I do have some Lake City NATO stamped cases that are a bit lighter, average of 180 grains.  But typical .308 Win cases I have weighed are 174 to 176 gr (Lapua, FC, SSA, PPU and some others).   Winchester is particularly light, 150 to 155 grains, and I won’t use that brass in my No. 4. 

It would be useful to know the weight of the new Hornady .308 cases that Frameman1 used that were severely elongated on firing.  


As promised, here is the data I collected from my damaged and new Hornady 309 brass.
New, unfired case OAL= 2.0035
New case Base to datum =1.6250
New case wt.= 167.9gr.
Damaged brass OAL= 2.0395
Damaged base to datum = 1.6400
Damaged case wt. = 165.9 gr.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote britrifles Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 27 2020 at 12:30pm
Frameman 1, I would consider that Hornady brass to be in the “light weight” .308 commercial brass category and not suitable for your chamber.  Not the lightest I’ve seen, but other commercial brass such as Lapua is heavier (approx 175 gr).  That is a fair bit of elongation of the Hornady case on firing.  


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote britrifles Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 27 2020 at 12:46pm
Zed, nothing wrong with your thinking here, lighter loads will be easier on you and the rifle and provide longer barrel life and less receiver/bolt wear. 

I’ve tried to explain the difference between loads that are within the action and barrel strength safety margin (which includes the headspace issues) and long term durability of the barrel and action.  What may be a perfectly safe load for a new rifle, these commercial .308 loads can accelerate wear and erosion of the barrel as compared to light loads that we assemble.    If you shoot 10 rounds a year, you won’t cause much wear shooting .308 commercial ammunition that has chamber pressures within the capability of the No. 4 action, but if your like me and shoot several thousand rounds a year, you will get much longer life with reduced loads, and they are just as accurate (possibly more accurate) than the full power .308 load in a No. 4 Enfield.

Yes, the 7.62 NATO special ball Mk 316 was developed for sniping, for modern military bolt and auto loading rifles that shoot 7.62 ammunition.  I’d suspect that the sniper bolt action rifles have fairly tight headspace (likely within .308 SAAMI specs) while the autoloading rifles likely have slightly longer headspace.  


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The Armourer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 08 2020 at 7:23am

Just for 'interest' (I knew I had it somewhere)

A few years ago - Notice from the NRA banning the use of LE No4s in 7.62 unless ........................

NRA Safety Notice re No 4 7.62mm Conversions

This is the current stance of the NRA safety warning which first appeared in the Summer NRA Journal:

Safety Notice
Enfield No 4 Rifle Conversions to 7.62mm


A safety warning concerning the use of Enfield No 4 Rifle actions converted to 7.62mm was published in the Summer 2010 Journal.

After further consideration of all factors influencing safety of these conversions and consultation with the Birmingham Proof Master, the following advice must be adhered to in respect of the use of Enfield No 4 conversions:

• Owners of Enfield No 4 actioned rifles converted to 7.62mm currently proofed to 19 tons per square inch are strongly advised to have them re-proofed to the current CIP standard (requiring a minimum mean proof pressure of 5190 bar) which allows the use of CIP approved ammunition with a Maximum Average Working Pressure (MAWP) of 4150 Bar.
• Conversions retaining their original Enfield barrel or a replacement barrel as manufactured by RSAF Enfield are safe to use with commercial CIP approved ammunition, which complies with a MAWP of 4150 bar, loaded with any weight of bullet, providing they carry a valid proof mark, and are still in the same condition as when submitted for proof.
• Conversions fitted with any other make of barrel (such as Ferlach, Maddco, Krieger etc) should be checked by a competent gunsmith to determine the throat diameter of the chamber/barrel fitted before use.
• Conversions where the throat diameter is less than the CIP specification of 0.311” but not smaller than 0.3085” must not be used with ammunition which exceeds 3650 Bar MAWP when fired in a SAAMI/CIP pressure barrel.
• Conversions which have been checked and found to comply with Rule 150 may safely be used with any ammunition supplied by the NRA including the 155 grain Radway Green Cartridge, 155 grain RUAG Cartridge or any other commercial CIP Approved cartridges loaded with bullets of any weight provided that the ammunition pressure does not exceed 3650 Bar when measured in a CIP standard barrel.
• Owners of Enfield No 4 actioned rifles converted to 7.62mm who are uncertain as to the proof status of the rifle should have it checked by a competent gunsmith.
• Owners of Enfield No 4 actioned rifles in any calibre are strongly advised not to use them in wet weather or without removing all traces of oil from action and chamber prior to shooting.
• Enfield No 4 rifles which are fitted with a barrel which has a throat diameter less than 0.3085” must not be used on Bisley Ranges.
• Ammunition loaded with bullets of any weight which are of greater diameter than the throat diameter of the barrel must not under any circumstances be used on Bisley Ranges in any rifle or barrel of any manufacture.

 



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Honkytonk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 08 2020 at 7:47am
"Owners of Enfield No4 actioned rifles in any calibre are strongly advised not to use them in wet weather or without removing all traces of oil from action and chamber prior to shooting." 
Good thing this warning wasn't published in the early '30's or we would all be goose-stepping and eating schnitzel!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The Armourer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 08 2020 at 8:06am
Originally posted by Honkytonk Honkytonk wrote:

"Owners of Enfield No4 actioned rifles in any calibre are strongly advised not to use them in wet weather or without removing all traces of oil from action and chamber prior to shooting." 
Good thing this warning wasn't published in the early '30's or we would all be goose-stepping and eating schnitzel!

There was an article in one of the shooting magazines which said very similar - I ended up with a huge argument with the editor but they would not issue a retraction, and refused to print my "letters to the editor".

This was my opening letter :


FAO Mr P. Carr (Editor)

                                     

Dear Sir,

 

Sporting Rifle – March 2010. “Wet Weather Drill”

 

As an ardent collector, shooter and historian of Lee Enfield rifles I was very concerned, even alarmed, at the statements made by Mr Chris White in his article “Wet Weather Drill”.

 

The article started innocuously enough but then seemed to move to a serious ‘Enfield Bashing’ session, with unsubstantiated rumours and half-truths being quoted as fact.

 

I would like to break down the article into manageable sized ‘chunks’ and look at each statement individually:

 

a)      “…….. at worst a stretched action. Lee Enfield’s are notorious for this.”

 

Any rifle with water in the chamber, or using wet ammunition will have problems. It is not that the chamber pressure is higher than normal, but, the fact that the cartridge case can no longer grip the chamber wall, and therefore more force is passed back onto the bolt head / bolt. As the author states himself, his grandfather was at Passchendaele, where conditions were not ‘ideal’ and I am sure if Enfield’s ‘exploded’ when wet there would have been some reports of it happening.

Where is the evidence confirming “No4 Enfield’s are notorious for this” ?

 

Out of around 16 million Enfields manufactured, surely it would have been known if there was a ‘problem’.

 

I have spoken with the most Senior British Military Armourer at the Small Arms School at Warminster. He has trawled the military records and can not find a single report of a No4 action being affected in this way. He has offered to discuss Mr White's findings with him if he should care to find out the truth, as opposed to ‘internet rumours’.

Contact details provided if you require them.

 

b)      “A No4 shooting 7.62 ammunition is already doing a job beyond its design parameters”

 

Whose design parameters? As well as civilian shooters, the Military and the Police have used No4 actioned 7.62 rifles for many years. For example, the L39 (Military target rifle) was designed and built by RSAF (Royal Small Arms factory) Enfield, the Police ‘Enforcer’ Sniper rifle, The Enfield ‘Envoy’ and numerous other rifles were built by RSAF Enfield and Parker Hale, is Mr White suggesting that they knowingly built and sold rifles that were being asked to perform beyond their design parameters? I think the RSAF would have a little more knowledge on this subject than Mr White.

 

c)      “This coupled with questionable gunsmithing and significantly undersized bores when the rifle was converted from .303 ……”

 

Undoubtedly there have been some ‘home conversions’ of Enfield rifles but to lump together all conversions, as “questionable gunsmithing” is totally unreasonable. Official ‘conversions’ have been undertaken by Government agencies all around the world, again such notable names as RSAF, Parker Hale, and DCRA, - the list goes on.

The comment could be read as the fact that the 303 barrels were bored out and sleeved for 7.62 – this is not the case. “Conversion Kits” included the correct (newly made) barrel, breeching up washers, bolt head and extractor, there was no ‘questionable gunsmithing’ involved.

What evidence has Mr White to support his claims of “questionable gunsmithing” & “undersized bores” ?

 

d)      “….. stressing the action beyond this limit has a cumulative effect, which ultimately leads to failure …….”

 

Absolutely true of any metal part, on any rifle and is not a peculiarity of an Enfield rifle.

 

e)      “…. To cap it all, when the rifle passed into civilian hands it was subject to a deliberate overload at the proof house …..”

 

The implication here is that this is something unique to Military surplus / Enfield rifles, surely Mr White is aware that ANY firearm sold in the UK must be proofed with a “deliberately overloaded” proof round.

The military proof testing (STANAG) is even more severe than the civilian testing in that not only do they use a proof round 25% above service pressure, but they also use an ‘oiled’ round (to simulate wet cartridges) which would pick up on the alleged “action stretching”.

I quote from the specification:

 

“Each weapon and component considered vulnerable to the effects of a rapid change in pressure, for example barrels, breech blocks and bolts, will be tested by firing one dry round at a corrected minimum of 25% over pressure and one oiled round at a corrected minimum of 25% over pressure. 25% over pressure means 25% in excess of the Service Pressure (Pmax). The Service Pressure is defined as the mean pressure generated by the Service Cartridge at a temperature of 21°C. Such a high pressure proof is conducted with both the weapon and ammunition conditioned to an ambient temperature of 21°C.”

 

Any military firearm would be subject to this test, I again revert to the example of the Military L39 which is a 7.62 calibre ‘converted’ No4 action.

 

 

The shooting fraternity is under increasing pressure from Politicians and the non-shooting public, and ‘scare mongering’ reporting such as this article does our sport no good at all.

With the latest mandates from the UN to ban the civilian sales of military calibre weapons and ammunition (this includes 7.62), The international airlines (IATA) refusing to carry military calibre weapons, and the fact that in the UK 7.62 and .308 are seen as the same calibre (and many FAC’s show 308/7.62) we are looking at an uncertain future.

 

I am sure Mr White has researched his article and used information from qualified sources, this being the case, I see no reason why he should not be able to provide empirical evidence to support his article, If he cannot, then I would ask that an admission of error be published.

Yours faithfully


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Goosic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 08 2020 at 8:21am
 Is this part of a publication from the Ministry of Defense and what is rule 150?
I read everything word for word and line by line and this is what I make of it.
...in conclusion, if your Lee-Enfield No4 rifle is NOT in its original configuration of firing the venerable 303 British ammunition, you must discard of it post haste into the nearest dust bin...

I am truly not understanding what is being said here and does this apply to the thousands of DCRA converted No4 rifles, Sterling Armaments 7.62 mm conversion kits, the thousands of rifles converted by Gibbs and Charnwood as well and every L39/42A1 ever produced?
I am not trying to be obtuse but you seem to be supplying us here with only a fraction of the whole article. An open ended version if you will.  Where is the article that includes this elusive rule 150, or any other rule for that matter?
Are these Lee-Enfield No4  rifles,  according to the "Birmingham Proof Master," so poorly constructed that conversions to any other caliber including the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge leaves them unfit to fire unless the,"Birmingham Proof Master" says otherwise?
Who or what is this Birmingham Proof Master?
A mean proof pressure of 5190 Bar and a Maximum Average Working Pressure of 4150 Bar is inconsequential to me unless there is a way to show the numbers in Piezo Scale form or the NATO EPVAT Mpa +25 tests.
I have spent countless hours converting this last No4 to fire 7.62x51mm NATO using an Ishapore barrel and my No5Mk1 was converted following the same procedure set forth from Charnwood C.O..
I am not a paid for your services gunsmith nor am I an armourer. I am very knowledgeable with the art of gunsmithing and was trained as such however.  I have no doubts that my rifles can and will safely fire the .308 handloads I have supplied for them for decades to come and no rhetorical BS will sway me otherwise. 


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