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Lee Enfield MLE MK1? - Found in Dad's Attic

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mrdibbles View Drop Down
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    Posted: September 03 2011 at 10:23pm
Hey Guys-
My Dad asked me over yesterday to help him pull some stuff from the attic at his house and one of the things he was planning to discard was this "Wall Hanger" of a Lee Enfield.  Of course I volunteered to hang the bad boy on my wall and immediately put it in my trunk knowing I could get more infrmation here.
 
The rifle was given to my Dad cerca 1972 while he worked at the US Embassy in Paraguay South America.  It's been in dry storage ever since but clearly for many years prior it had not been well taken care of.
 
The rifling looks sharp and deep with a few areas of minor pitting.  The barrel has turned mostly to brown with some areas where the blue remains.  The stock is rough because Paraguayan termites long ago had chosen this rifle as a refuge.
 
Anyway here are a few pictures taken quickly with my cell phone.  I'd love your insights into how I can date this rifle, if I should stictly keep her as a "wall hanger" or hope for something more, and so on.
Thanks,
Matt-
 
 
 
 
 
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Additional Photos:
 
 
 
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LE Owner Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 04 2011 at 3:31am
Have a qualified gunsmith check it out and testfire it if called for.
 
If given by a military source they may have considered it unserviceable by their standards but it could still be safe to shoot with ammunition suited to it.
The MkVI and earlier .303 cartridges had a lower working pressure than the WW1 era MkVII and MkVIIIz cartridges.
This rifle was probably proofed for a working pressure of 16.5 Long Tons rather than the 18.5 LT of later .303 Enfields.
 
Some have used the more energetic MkVII and MKVIIIz in these older rifles, but why risk it, especially since even if safe to fire the rifle may show some degradation. I'd baby it with the lowest pressure ammo that meets original MkVI ammunition performance.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote saffer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 04 2011 at 3:48am

On initial inspection, I thought that was a SMLE No1 MK1 owing to the magazine cut off, but the barrel does not look right for a SMLE, and could bea lee metford.

Anyone else agree or disagree.

Not a complete idiot. Still missing a few parts.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mrdibbles Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 04 2011 at 4:21am
I appreciate the responses thus far.  Also in the collection which my Dad brought back from South America (back in the early 70's) were these two Winchester carbines (below).  The bottom one is a 44-40 Trapper and was in similar condition to this Lee Enfield.  The top Carbine's a 38-80 (also a Saddle Ring) and I had both restored by a renowned cowboy gun expert.  The question on this Lee Enfield is "Is she also worth saving" or is she more of a relic that should serve out her years raising eyebrows in the barn above the workbench?
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote White Rhino Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 04 2011 at 5:29am
Nice find !!!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lithgow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 04 2011 at 6:38am

Due to the lack of markings on the butt socket, I believe it is a commercial model, i.e not made for the military. That does not mean that it has not seen military service though.

That shape of the Knox form is right for a long lee enfield.
As far as dating it, someone who knows about serial numbers might be able to help with that.
Good score.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SW28fan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 04 2011 at 8:45am
Enfields of that vintage are very rare. It is hard to give a value because there are so many variables but it is worth atleast $500 in the U.S. perhaps even twice that.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote White Rhino Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 04 2011 at 10:08am
Worth it !!  I would restore it if You have the means !!! even if its a looker on the wall ..still ya dont see them on every other wall today !!!  so ......

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"Everybody's got to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer." --W. C. Fields
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LE Owner Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 05 2011 at 2:53am
Try Ballistol on the brown parts of the steel before considering any refinishing.
The rifle will retain more value as is than refinished in any case.
 
Ballistol has a way of drawing rust out of the surface and usually leaves the remaining oxidation deactivated and turned dark or even black to blend with remaining bluing.
 
Some older bluing formulas used cyanide and this type bluing can penetrate deeper into the surface of steel. I've seen bright polished cyanide blued steel turn black overnight if the original chemicals went deep enough and were exposed to air once more.
 
Many older rifles and shotguns I've cleaned with ballistol showed far more original bluing intact under a fine layer of brown rust than you would imagine.
For crusty spots I use a popcycle stick to gently scrape away softened rust scabs without marring the steel.
 
If the surface is kept wet with balistol between cleanings brown rust continues to break loose over time, even long after the surface looks clear of rust.
 
Bluing is a controled rusting to begin with. A crust of rust would be carded off after the initial dunking in the mildly corrosive solutions.
If done carefully the same process can make brown rust into a part of the finish.
 
As for the stock, it looks mostly intact.
You might leave as is or have some patching in and filling done.
I don't think anything needs to be replaced, but minor repairs shouldn't affect value if properly done.
 
PS
I would carefully remove the stock, especially the fore end, and cheack for rusting away under the wood.
In tropical climes sweat from the hands can migrate under the wood at the carry point and cause hidden corrosion. The salt in sweat doesn't go away so any moisture drawn from the air can continue the rusting process for decades.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote White Rhino Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 05 2011 at 2:59am
I may have to get some Ballistol , never heard of it before .... I have several Rifles I could give it a try on .....

"White Rhino"

"Everybody's got to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer." --W. C. Fields
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote yoeri Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 05 2011 at 3:03am
when you don't like it .... ;)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote White Rhino Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 05 2011 at 3:11am
The Ballistol I found at Mid Way is an oil/penetrate oil , The reviews talk about using it on black powder fire arms .
Sounds pretty good though .  
"White Rhino"

"Everybody's got to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer." --W. C. Fields
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LE Owner Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 05 2011 at 6:24am
Ballistol is great stuff, some nearly non toxic that its recommended for use in restaruants for cleaning meat cutting machines.
 
IIRC its an outgrowth of German WW2 powder solvents for use on any type of firearm or cannon.
 
It doesn't have much lubricity, but leaves a protective layer with some lubrication power.
I've been told it should not be used on a HK auto loader, and can cause jams if used on that and some other autoloaders.
Works fine with bolt actions though.
 
The first time I ran across it the translated German label reccommended it for use as an emergency wound cleaner and disinfectant for hunting dogs and horses. 
 
When used to clean black powder weapons it should be mixed with water.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jc5 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 08 2011 at 7:07am
Wow! That's a great find. You wrote: "The rifle was given to my Dad cerca 1972 while he worked at the US Embassy in Paraguay South America."  I can only imagine how this rifle got to Paraguay and what adventures it has seen! The only way it would be a wall-hanger is if a gunsmith certified it as unsafe for some reason. As a collectible, it's a desirable piece, even though it's a little banged up.

I've been researching these commercial Lee Metfords and Lee Enfields (a.k.a Lee-Speeds) for some years now. Please send me a PM so I can send you my rifle survey. Every bit of info is big help to my project!

Looks like you've got a rifle made by the Birmingham Small Arms Company according to the Magazine Lee Enfield MkI* pattern. BSA made rifles on government contract for the British military, and also made them for private sale (service patterns like yours for volunteers, rifle clubs, competitive target shooters, and sporting versions for hunters) and private contract to foreign governments. You can tell a commercial version by its lack of government markings and lack of a date (on the right side of the butt socket it just says "BSA Co."). From what I can see in your photos, yours left the factory in Birmingham sometime between 1905 and 1914. Maybe we can learn more:

1) Does the bayonet lug have a hole drilled in it for a clearing rod?
2) Is there a channel cut in the forearm wood for a clearing rod?
3) Is there anything stamped on the top-rear flat part of the action (where the bolt slides in)? (You need to lift up the bolt handle to see).
4) Can you please post a pic of the LEFT side of the action, where the barrel meets the receiver). We need to see the stamps there.
5) If you plan to remove the wood (I assume you are going to clean the whole thing, remove rust, etc), there might be markings underneath the barrel that could tell us more about when this rifle was made and where it's been.    BE CAREFUL: Just in case you are new to Lee Enfields, always remove the fore-end wood BEFORE you remove the butt stock! This is a good general rule to follow when disassembling any Enfield. If you remove the butt first, you risk splitting the wood. Also, be very careful when removing the top hand guard....this part is easily split. Unfortunately, some of the most useful stamps are found underneath this piece.

More pics are always a good thing.

Who knows what adventures these commercial Lee Enfields have seen? Some may have spent their long and cherished lives commuting between a garage gun cabinet and the local rifle range. Others might well have potted wild beasts on the veldt, or accompanied some explorer across central Africa or the Asian steppes, or chased Von Lettow-Vorbeck and his Askaris across East Africa in 1915. Your own rifle may yet have more adventures ahead of it. Others have owned this rifle over the past century, but you are now its temporary custodian. If it's mechanically sound, I say give it some TLC, use it well and pass it on someday to someone who will appreciate it. It might well outlive us all.


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Researching Lee Speeds and all commercial Lee Enfields. If you have a question or data to share, please send me a PM.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote A square 10 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 08 2011 at 1:02pm
more pictures and closer details will net you more info
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