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Thread: SMLE Sporter

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    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    Default SMLE Sporter

    What are these old Brit guns good for? I’m not trying to be sarcastic, as I actually kind of think they are cool, but in a grotesque sort of way……… Can they be turned (action wise) into a decent sporter? I would of course send the wood off to New Dumpsterville and order some nice looking wood from one of the aftermarket suppliers. And I am not really a fan of the .303 so would want to re-barrel to some other cartridge but don’t know the capabilities of the action or magazine. Not looking for a super magnum kind of thing, just something that isn’t a .303.

    Any thoughts?
    “You’ve gotten soft. You’re like one of those police dogs who’s released in to the wild and gets eaten by a deer or something.” Bill McNeal of News Radio

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alangaq View Post
    What are these old Brit guns good for? I’m not trying to be sarcastic, as I actually kind of think they are cool, but in a grotesque sort of way……… Can they be turned (action wise) into a decent sporter? I would of course send the wood off to New Dumpsterville and order some nice looking wood from one of the aftermarket suppliers. And I am not really a fan of the .303 so would want to re-barrel to some other cartridge but don’t know the capabilities of the action or magazine. Not looking for a super magnum kind of thing, just something that isn’t a .303.

    Any thoughts?
    Over the years I've seen a couple that were sporterized, and once you got past the magazine in the floorplate, they looked darned good. A friend did one of them, and I helped him with a couple of tasks that were causing him problems. I've still got my copy of the book he used for reference: "How to Convert Military Rifles, New Revised Enlarged Sixth Edition" by Williams, the sight people. It's one of their Guide Line series. It cost $1.95 way back when it was published in 1969. I think I got mine in 1970. It's SBS # is 695-80095-7.

    You might go online and see if you can find a used one, or determine if there's a more recent version. Of course it concentrates on Williams accessories, some of which probably aren't available these days. But the info might help you search out used ones online. There are also useful sections on other military rifles from around the world. I've got a sporterized 30-40 Krag from an era long before this book was published. No, the 30-40 is not a super caliber by today's standards, but dang, is it ever a neat rifle!

    As for calibers, I happen to like the 303, so that wouldn't bother me. Australia has been the leader in developing wildcats on the 303, and I think they're in about every caliber you could imagine. Rebarreling to a wildcat based on the 303 might solve all sorts of feeding issues compared to trying to adapt the action for some other parent case.

  3. #3

    Default Utility

    Quote Originally Posted by Alangaq View Post
    What are these old Brit guns good for? I’m not trying to be sarcastic, as I actually kind of think they are cool, but in a grotesque sort of way……… Can they be turned (action wise) into a decent sporter? I would of course send the wood off to New Dumpsterville and order some nice looking wood from one of the aftermarket suppliers. And I am not really a fan of the .303 so would want to re-barrel to some other cartridge but don’t know the capabilities of the action or magazine. Not looking for a super magnum kind of thing, just something that isn’t a .303.

    Any thoughts?
    The SMLE is an iconic old rifle that's been used around the world in every major war and conflict since the late 1800's. They have been used on every continent in one configuration or another to take every game animal that walks.
    Action wise the P14 was to be the antiquated SMLEs replacement but the war precluded the change and then afterwards the world went to the FN49 or FAL as a battle weapon, followed by the US with the M14.
    The high pressure action SMLE was made in ISHAPORE in 308 caliber (it holds 12 rounds).
    The P14 has been made into a lot of the magnum calibers as a sporing rifle. The SMLE has been converted to the 45-70 by Gibbs and Navy Arms as a sporter. I have one that was converted by Dan Montgomery to 45-90. I'm sure there are many calibers that lend themselves to the SMLE action; In Austrailia it was THE source for wildcats for years.
    These rugged reliable old rifles are the equivalant in power of the 308 and as such can be used for the same size animals. The sights on the SMLE are it's limiting factor for most people.
    When modified, scoped and in a quality stock it performs well out to 250 yards or so.
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    Alangaq:
    As you may know the action was used to make the Lee Speed Sporting Rifles. IIRC, there was one in the movie, "The Ghost and the Darkness".

    Here's some Info.

    http://forums.gunboards.com/showthread.php?p=598399

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alangaq View Post
    What are these old Brit guns good for? I’m not trying to be sarcastic, as I actually kind of think they are cool, but in a grotesque sort of way……… Can they be turned (action wise) into a decent sporter? I would of course send the wood off to New Dumpsterville and order some nice looking wood from one of the aftermarket suppliers. And I am not really a fan of the .303 so would want to re-barrel to some other cartridge but don’t know the capabilities of the action or magazine. Not looking for a super magnum kind of thing, just something that isn’t a .303.

    Any thoughts?


    as the canadian govt issue rifle into the "60's the mk4 was the issue sniper rifle even after the adoption of the fal. the .303 was (is) used to hunt everything, including big bears. the rifle is utterly reliable, quite acurate, and throws a large bullet at reasonable velocities.

    being the govt standard the rifle/cartridge was the most common caliber to be found in the north, and with justification. it is responsible for more moose kills that any other. rifles and ammunition are cheap, and commonly available.

    and it's fun to shoot!

    happy trails.
    jh

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    Col.Jeff Copper (RIP) based his first scout rifles on it and thought it one of the best defence weapons made with the ten round mag for modern use

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    Default

    OK, I am convinced! I will keep my eyes open for donor to sporterize, or an already sporterized version to add to my collection. .303 doesn’t sound too bad after all.

    And thanks to Smitty, I am going to have to watch Ghost and the darkness tonight……..
    “You’ve gotten soft. You’re like one of those police dogs who’s released in to the wild and gets eaten by a deer or something.” Bill McNeal of News Radio

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alangaq View Post
    OK, I am convinced! I will keep my eyes open for donor to sporterize, or an already sporterized version to add to my collection. .303 doesn’t sound too bad after all.

    And thanks to Smitty, I am going to have to watch Ghost and the darkness tonight……..
    Never a wasted evening doing THAT!

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    Default correction or two

    Actually you missed a war - the P14 was developed for WWI, the semi-autos didn't come around until after WWII. The Brits could have changed after WWI but lot interest in fighting until Germany started looking westward again.

    The .303 is actually the equivalent of the .30-40 Krag - not the .308. The .30-40 and .303 are quite similar in a number ways.

    There was also a lot of work done with the Enfields in Canada also - I forget the name of one gunsmith up there that did a lot with the N0.4 Mk. Is and IIs.

    Sterling in the UK make a conversion kit for converting a N0. 4 Mk into a .308 in the 60s. I had one way back then but traded it off for something. If I recall it shot very well.


    Quote Originally Posted by brav01 View Post
    The SMLE is an iconic old rifle that's been used around the world in every major war and conflict since the late 1800's. They have been used on every continent in one configuration or another to take every game animal that walks.
    Action wise the P14 was to be the antiquated SMLEs replacement but the war precluded the change and then afterwards the world went to the FN49 or FAL as a battle weapon, followed by the US with the M14.
    The high pressure action SMLE was made in ISHAPORE in 308 caliber (it holds 12 rounds).
    The P14 has been made into a lot of the magnum calibers as a sporing rifle. The SMLE has been converted to the 45-70 by Gibbs and Navy Arms as a sporter. I have one that was converted by Dan Montgomery to 45-90. I'm sure there are many calibers that lend themselves to the SMLE action; In Austrailia it was THE source for wildcats for years.
    These rugged reliable old rifles are the equivalant in power of the 308 and as such can be used for the same size animals. The sights on the SMLE are it's limiting factor for most people.
    When modified, scoped and in a quality stock it performs well out to 250 yards or so.
    Living the urban lifestyle so I can pay my way and for my family's needs, and support my country. And you?
    ".. ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" JFK

  10. #10

    Default HUH

    Quote Originally Posted by tvfinak View Post
    Actually you missed a war - the P14 was developed for WWI, the semi-autos didn't come around until after WWII. The Brits could have changed after WWI but lot interest in fighting until Germany started looking westward again.

    The .303 is actually the equivalent of the .30-40 Krag - not the .308. The .30-40 and .303 are quite similar in a number ways.

    There was also a lot of work done with the Enfields in Canada also - I forget the name of one gunsmith up there that did a lot with the N0.4 Mk. Is and IIs.

    Sterling in the UK make a conversion kit for converting a N0. 4 Mk into a .308 in the 60s. I had one way back then but traded it off for something. If I recall it shot very well.
    I said nothing about WW2, the P14 was developed as a replacement for the ageing SMLE during WW1. Semi Autos were developed before WW2 they just weren't commonly used in a conflict until WW2 (1938). The BAR was developed at the end of WW1 and the Garand was designed in and adopted 1936, the Germans had the G43, and the Russians had the Tokarev SVT40 rifle and the Simonov (now the SKS), the Swedes had the AG-42 Ljungman.
    With the same weight bullets the 303 british launches a projectile aprox 100 fps slower than a 308. SO they are pretty close in power. Converting a 303 to 308 is NOT a good idea as the 303 is a lower pressure round. The Ishapore arsenal redesigned the action for the higher pressure 7.62 round, not a simple modification or a rebarrel.
    " Americans will never need the 2nd Amendment, until the government tries to take it away."

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    Default .303 Brit

    The Americans were the only major player in WWII primarily armed with semi-auto infantry rifles. The Germans, Japs, and Commonwealth Nations all used bolt actions as their primary infantry rifles. The Brits didn't even adapt the FAL until the mid 50's - some 40 years after the P14.

    The .303 and .30-40 Krag are virtually the same cartridge in dimensions and ballistics. The .30-40 Krag case is slightly longer but loaded to a slightly lower pressure. In a modern rifle loaded to the same pressure the cartridges are virtually the same ballistically.

    The Mk 4 conversion to 7.62 NATO worked well but was too late in time - the FAL was adapted about the same time the 7.62 round was standardized. The MK 4 is plenty strong enough for the round although it does stretch like it does with the .303 round. Re-use brass isn't much of an issue to the military anymore so the stretching was acceptabe. The kit I got had a new barrel, bolt head assembly, magazine, and ejector screw. Of course only the better condition rifles were considered for conversion since there was a large selection to chose from. I don't know where the British military converted rifles ended up - probably destroyed.

    There was probably some interesting politics involved in India manufacturing a new rifle instead of using the existing stocks of Mk. 4 avaliable in the world. The Brits were probably still miffed at India after they had won their independence and wouldn't supply them with arms. With the crappy steel made in India re-inforcing the receiver wasn't a bad idea - I'd bet a good Brit or American made Mk 4 is as strong as what Indians turned out.


    Quote Originally Posted by brav01 View Post
    I said nothing about WW2, the P14 was developed as a replacement for the ageing SMLE during WW1. Semi Autos were developed before WW2 they just weren't commonly used in a conflict until WW2 (1938). The BAR was developed at the end of WW1 and the Garand was designed in and adopted 1936, the Germans had the G43, and the Russians had the Tokarev SVT40 rifle and the Simonov (now the SKS), the Swedes had the AG-42 Ljungman.
    With the same weight bullets the 303 british launches a projectile aprox 100 fps slower than a 308. SO they are pretty close in power. Converting a 303 to 308 is NOT a good idea as the 303 is a lower pressure round. The Ishapore arsenal redesigned the action for the higher pressure 7.62 round, not a simple modification or a rebarrel.
    Living the urban lifestyle so I can pay my way and for my family's needs, and support my country. And you?
    ".. ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" JFK

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    Default SMLE and P14 are different

    I know that this is known by many discussing this topic but it should be made clear. The Short Magazine Lee Enfield (SMLE) rifle of all makes is different very different internally then the P14, though externally they look similar. Whenever people talk about these rifles they tend make a lot of generalization about them that should not be made, and muddy the waters for many.

    The SMLE is a rear locking action. It was designed in the 1880's and had a long sucessfull life as a battle rifle, and was used clear through WWII.

    By WWI the brits were looking to upgrade to a front locking design. They designed the P13 enfield, which was front locking. Few of this rifle were made before they made some minor changes and renamed it the P14. By this time WWI was on and they badly needed rifles so they contracted to have Remington, Winchester, and Eddystone in the US build the rifles. Right about the time contracts where done for the british the US entered WWI we also badly needed rifles.

    Since the M1903 was more time consuming to make and the factorys were already setup to make P14's the US desided to keep the basic P14 design with some changes. This became the M1917. Internally the M1917 is very simmilar to the P14. Infact many parts interchange.

    All of these are good rifles but the P14's will not have the same brass streching problems as the SMLE's due to being front locking. Statments about strength or suitability of hot loads excetra made about SMLE's can not be said to apply to P14's and viceversa.

  13. #13

    Default HUH

    Quote Originally Posted by tvfinak View Post
    The Americans were the only major player in WWII primarily armed with semi-auto infantry rifles. The Germans, Japs, and Commonwealth Nations all used bolt actions as their primary infantry rifles. The Brits didn't even adapt the FAL until the mid 50's - some 40 years after the P14.

    The .303 and .30-40 Krag are virtually the same cartridge in dimensions and ballistics. The .30-40 Krag case is slightly longer but loaded to a slightly lower pressure. In a modern rifle loaded to the same pressure the cartridges are virtually the same ballistically.

    The Mk 4 conversion to 7.62 NATO worked well but was too late in time - the FAL was adapted about the same time the 7.62 round was standardized. The MK 4 is plenty strong enough for the round although it does stretch like it does with the .303 round. Re-use brass isn't much of an issue to the military anymore so the stretching was acceptabe. The kit I got had a new barrel, bolt head assembly, magazine, and ejector screw. Of course only the better condition rifles were considered for conversion since there was a large selection to chose from. I don't know where the British military converted rifles ended up - probably destroyed.

    There was probably some interesting politics involved in India manufacturing a new rifle instead of using the existing stocks of Mk. 4 avaliable in the world. The Brits were probably still miffed at India after they had won their independence and wouldn't supply them with arms. With the crappy steel made in India re-inforcing the receiver wasn't a bad idea - I'd bet a good Brit or American made Mk 4 is as strong as what Indians turned out.
    I don't know where you did your history studies; BUT Russia was a major player in the second world war. They also faced 3 times as many divisions of AXIS forces as the US forces did. THEY made 1.6 million SVT40 SLR rifles. The Germans liked them well enough to use captured weapons over the issued 98k, on the Russian front.
    Haveing seen, fired, and sold every common model of SMLE includeing an original sniper L42 model used in the Falklands campaign. I can honestly say the best SMLE I every fired was the L42 closely followed by a Savage, followed by an Ishapore made in 1974.
    " Americans will never need the 2nd Amendment, until the government tries to take it away."

    On the road of life..... Pot holes keep things interesting !

  14. #14

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    The SMLE is very fast to operate and fire with practice. Hold ten rds as well, which is quite a bit of firepower. The actions are robust and have been in use a long time. The design is still in use in many areas of the world today.

    One can stick a 30/40 Krag barrel on it without too much trouble.
    One firm makes 7.62 X39 and 45 ACP conversions. Google it.
    I have Navy Arms 45/70 on a No4.
    I also owned a L46 converted to 7.62 X51 NATO.
    If you just want a single shot, the 308 conversion on a No4 is doable, see DeHaas Bolt Action Rifles book. Williams book, on onverting Military Rifles is a good referance as well.

    Brownells sells a fairly good scope mount for the N04 that requires no alterations of hole drilling.

    If you stick with the 303, Wooleigh 215gr SP are still made for game use.

    Have fun with this rifle!

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    Default Semiautos in WWII

    Other countries including Russia used semi-autos and some of them worked well. If you look at the main infanty rifles by the numbers made and used the bolt action was still the primary infantry rifle of all but the U.S. 1.6 million rifles wasn't a big number in WWII; we made around 6 million M1 carbines and 3 or 4 million of M-1 rifles. I don't know how many Mosin-Nagants the Russians made or captured and used but I'd bet it was way way over 1.6 million! They probably used that many captured K98s.


    Quote Originally Posted by brav01 View Post
    I don't know where you did your history studies; BUT Russia was a major player in the second world war. They also faced 3 times as many divisions of AXIS forces as the US forces did. THEY made 1.6 million SVT40 SLR rifles. The Germans liked them well enough to use captured weapons over the issued 98k, on the Russian front.
    Haveing seen, fired, and sold every common model of SMLE includeing an original sniper L42 model used in the Falklands campaign. I can honestly say the best SMLE I every fired was the L42 closely followed by a Savage, followed by an Ishapore made in 1974.
    Living the urban lifestyle so I can pay my way and for my family's needs, and support my country. And you?
    ".. ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" JFK

  16. #16

    Default SLR

    Quote Originally Posted by tvfinak View Post
    Other countries including Russia used semi-autos and some of them worked well. If you look at the main infanty rifles by the numbers made and used the bolt action was still the primary infantry rifle of all but the U.S. 1.6 million rifles wasn't a big number in WWII; we made around 6 million M1 carbines and 3 or 4 million of M-1 rifles. I don't know how many Mosin-Nagants the Russians made or captured and used but I'd bet it was way way over 1.6 million! They probably used that many captured K98s.
    The US didn't have an enemy at the gates and our factories weren't being bombed around the clock either. The US issued millions of bolt actions by the way some were WW1 issue as well.
    " Americans will never need the 2nd Amendment, until the government tries to take it away."

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    Default Desperate times

    The Russians certainly didn't have the manufacturing resources the Germans had in WWII. Even while the German factories were being bombed round the clock they managed to max out their munitions production in 1944! Like the South in the Civil War they eventually ran out of soldiers - not arms.

    The Germans were certainly the most civilized of the two evils although they were also lead by a mad man and were our enemies. Starving the Ukranians to death was probably at least as bad as what Hitler did in the concentration camps but it gets little publicitiy. I somtimes wonder if we trading a devil we knew for a devil we didn't know turned out to be the right thing. Fortuately the cold war never turned hot other than in Korea, Vietnam, and a few other conflicts.

    I guess the U.S. made over a million and a half bolt guns during WWII but other than the MK4s I don't recal reading of any being used in combat. The 1903 Springfields remained in service until sometime after WWII; I guess a lot were used for training and guard duty along with 1917s.


    Quote Originally Posted by brav01 View Post
    The US didn't have an enemy at the gates and our factories weren't being bombed around the clock either. The US issued millions of bolt actions by the way some were WW1 issue as well.
    Living the urban lifestyle so I can pay my way and for my family's needs, and support my country. And you?
    ".. ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" JFK

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    You guys are gittin kinda interesting with your History and all.

    Maybe, it was because of desperation, but when you stop and think about all the war material that was produced during WW II, Airplanes, for example, it makes me wonder if we could do it again.

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    I guess what got me to post this question in the first place was thinking back to my youth…….

    An old greasy SMLE was the first “high powered” rifle I had ever fired. My family was mostly just into small game and bird hunting, and all that Dad or Grandpa ever had in the way of guns was .22’s and shotguns, but when I was in the 8th grade I got to reading more and more hunting and gun related stuff and decided I needed a “real” gun…… unfortunately I didn’t have any experience with them and neither did my Dad. So one day after class, I was chatting with my History teacher Mr. Fannon and we started talking about guns and that I was “looking” for a bolt action high powered rifle. Well, Mr. Fannon says “have your Dad call me at home, and if it’s ok buy him, I have a .303 you can borrow for the summer to do some shooting and see if you like shooting the “big” guns” (this was rural NE in the early 80’s, so anything center fire and 30 caliber was a “big” gun), well sure enough, Dad gave the ok (before he know how much a box of .303 cartridges cost!) and Mr. Fannon brought the SMLE into school with him (no case, no box, nothing but a cool old rifle) and gave it to my bus driver after school. When we finally made it to my house (18 miles and half a bus full of kids later) I climbed off with my borrowed rifle! Not to get off track..... but can you imagine what would become of a teacher or bus driver if they tried that today?! Probably spend the rest of thier lives in a federal Penitentiary!

    The next weekend I went with Dad in search of .303 British ammunition, which it would turn out, was apparently not a very popular round in our parts……… We finaly rounded up a box of what was probably 180 to 200 gr RN cartidges and I remember Dad commenting on the “outrageous price” of $20!

    When we got back in the truck, he turned to me and said “$20…… that is a dollar EACH, and there aren’t going to be any more for long time, so don’t just waste them!” and off we went………

    I couldn’t wait to shoot that thing, but it was dark by the time we got home and I remember staying up all night checking that gun and admiring those huge shiny cartridges waiting for the sun to come up!

    Now you have to realize that we lived in the country on a 5 acre spread with a nice sized pond in the back yard. The “standing order” was that no critters on the home place were to be killed as Mom liked to look at them. The only exception was muskrats! I was specifically told to kill every single one I saw on the pond. Trap them, shoot them, poison them, it didn’t matter. Dad wanted them GONE, every last one of them, as he didn’t like them tunneling around the edges of the pond and leaving holes for the cows to get stuck in when drinking, or tunneling into the dam and causing errosion. Since summer was nearly upon us, and trapping season way off, I decided that the borrowed .303 would be put to use as muskrat medicine……

    I don’t know how many hours I spent sitting on the hillside overlooking that pond, but it was a lot. And every once in a while, one of those little guys would be foolish enough to cruise the pond like a little furry U-Boat leaving a nice wake on the glass smooth surface of the pond…….. of course I liked to imagine myself as the “shore battery” with my trusty borrowed .303 and over the course of a month managed to pick off about a dozen of the little critters at distances up to about 150 yards! Most were much closer, but still….. not too bad for a punk kid and an old rifle! I can say with some authority that the .303 British cartridge is indeed “plenty gun” for muskrats!

    Well, I guess you guys have me convinced that a .303 SMLE of my own is in order, but I don’t imagine it will ever see much U-Boat hunting duty………

    I did some digging around after reading Smitty’s post and found a number of pictures of the old converted (sporterized) Lee Speed rifle clones as well as originals, and am thinking that a copy of sorts would be a fun project. Express sights, nice aftermarket wood, lots of polishing, hot bluing and the like, should fit the bill and make for a fun project!
    “You’ve gotten soft. You’re like one of those police dogs who’s released in to the wild and gets eaten by a deer or something.” Bill McNeal of News Radio

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    Default Got one!

    Hooked up with Smitty of the North and e45colt today at the Palmer gun show! Good crowd to hang with I would say! Anyway, ran across "sporterized" Enfield Rifle No. 4 MK 1 * for $70

    The good news is that (besides the price!) it has rifling in the barrel, and it goes "click"! will post some pics soon
    “You’ve gotten soft. You’re like one of those police dogs who’s released in to the wild and gets eaten by a deer or something.” Bill McNeal of News Radio

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