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Thread: Enfield No 1, Mk III*, Think I got lucky

  1. #1
    Boolit Master Hick's Avatar
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    Enfield No 1, Mk III*, Think I got lucky

    I just recently bought a Lee Enfield No 1 Mk III * (SMLE) at a pawn shop, as a potential shooter. Externally it looks used but not abused. The surprise came when I took it apart. All parts are serial number matching. The date stamps on the barrel and inside of the stock are 1936. It was made in the factory the British set up in Ishapore, India. All the inspection and proof stamps match for the Ishapore factory. The amazing part is that the chamber is pristine and tight. Full length sized brass fits nicely but snug. The bore hasn't got a mark on it-- clean sharp rifling all the way to the muzzle, with no muzzle wear. It slugs at 0.313. I'm still working on first loads-- I only have one mold that might work so I may have to order another. I just hope it shoots as good as it looks.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Hick: Iron sights!

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    The Lee 185 gn mould is a good as you need..........I also had a Lyman 314299 mould,bullets stuck like glue,and needed expensive ,hard alloy to shoot well.......Lee gets my,and many other votes.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    Date of manufacture means that the Ishapore Arsenal was still under British supervision and pre-WW II. I'll also bet that you've got a good one, and exceptional specimens are getting difficult to find. I have a couple that were made in the 1950s, and they took some shortcuts in the manufacture like square instead of rounded front sight protector ears on the nosecap, and one made without a bayonet lug. Nevertheless, mine shoot well, so I'm sure yours will be a keeper.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Never underestimate the rifles from the third world. Some were made there with the best steels and the finest of woods for the stocks. Many show hard use and fought in rifle unfriendly environments. Any traces of green paint under the wood? A sure indication of jungle/tropical use. Lots of the stocks are unit marked and have brass plates with markings too that are indicators to its age and use other than the standard marking disk. I don't think I have ever seen an Ishapore in good shape. They have many variations like a 410, a single shot and the wire rap grenade launcher version that are all worth big bucks now, I passed so many up back in the day most were under 50.00.
    The 185 Lee is a great boolit provided it's big enough. 314299, 314198 and 314115 hp are all good too, you will have to see which ones group at velocity.

    Be well
    Last edited by leebuilder; 07-01-2018 at 11:08 PM.
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  5. #5
    Boolit Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    My go-to .303 bullet is NOE clone of #314299 cast of wheelweights, sized .314" with Hornady GC and 30 grs of either 4895, 4064, RL15, or Varget. Works in most.
    The ENEMY is listening.
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  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Sounds like this rifle was manufactured at the best time for quality control. IIRC many of the Indian rifles made in the 20's and 30's had surplus British made English Walnut stock sets left over from WW1 production. That or made from British stock blanks.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    Click image for larger version. 

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    Click to enlarge.
    Here is an assortment of No.I Mk.III* rifles from my collection.
    The three to the right of the Mosin Nagant are Indian. All were made in the 1950s. If you look closely you can see that the third from the left was made without provision to attach a stacking swivel, and that it and the last one on the right have square front sight protection ears rather than rounded. The second to last and last have stocks made of a wood other than walnut. I have heard it called "Coach wood", but do not know. It is softer and lighter than walnut. All of the Indian rifles have a stock reinforcement screw on the forestock, and I have seen several split on the bottom of the stock forward of the front magazine well screw. The third from the left is also an Indian model, but has a walnut stock. Note that none of the Indian models in my collection have the brass identification disc in the buttstock. I also have one without a bayonet lug, not pictured, and a lump where the stacking swivel should attach that was never finish machined. I have a book entitled "Peace In War" that covers the Sino-Indian border dispute which has a photo of Indian troops being moved to the front in trucks and the rifles they are equipped with have the nose caps with the squared sight protectors.

    Posted for collector interest.

    DG
    Last edited by Der Gebirgsjager; 07-02-2018 at 07:46 PM.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Yes, you got lucky regardless where it was made, particularly since it has a good bore. One precautionary check on any No.1 LE is to check the rear of the forearm for any cracking before you fire it. I had an Australian coachwood forearm (known to be prone to splitting) split a couple of years ago just forward of the front action screw, even though all the reinforcing parts were there. It would be unlikely that yours is coachwood since it was a wartime expedient when the Australians ran out of maple, but the other woods can crack too.
    Last edited by higgins; 07-02-2018 at 09:00 PM.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master Hick's Avatar
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    Folks

    Thanks for all the good advice-- I hadn't decided what molds to try-- but the suggestions above will get me on track.

    Hick
    Hick: Iron sights!

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Remember ,you must remove the forend first,any attempt to unscrew the butt screw may well split the forend,as the screw is squared on end,and fits in a lock in the forend...........Howls of protest,but I generally remove the square,prevents accidents in the future..None of the earlier Lees had it.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Looks like a nice one.
    One of the last of the MkIII rifles I had was a '29 mfg Ishapor. Great rifle,very well made.

    Now you need a pull-through cleaner & a brass oiler to fill the butt stock trap,,,,and probably a bayonet w/scabbard also..

  12. #12
    Boolit Master

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    FWIW, I'm trying to drum up interest for an inventory run of NOE's 314299 and 316299 to bolster their gas checked version inventory, being in a similar boat myself. Regardless of diameter, this design seems to be one that shoots well without a lot of wrangling.

    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...-Inventory-Run

    http://noebulletmolds.com/smf/index.php?topic=2541.0
    WWJMBD?

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  13. #13
    Boolit Master



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    Back in the "good old days" (early ninties) one of the major surplus dealers was offering No.1 MKIII * rifles at $39.95 each. My work buddy and I ordered a batch of five and really didn't expect much. The rifles showed up wearing all manner of wood but appeared to be in good shaped mechanically. I chose one with a dark stock, but good bore and he took the other four as Christmas gifts for his kids.

    The real surprise came when I thoroughly cleaned the gun......that bore and chamber looked unfired! Like the OP's gun, the rifling was razor sharp and showed no sign of ever passing a bullet. All metal was crisp, sharp and blued with only minor rack marks on the wood. With my limited knowledge of Enfields at the time, I thought that all manufacture of MKIII* rifles ceased after WWII. Not being aware of Ishapor manufactured rifles, I was astonished to find a 1970 manufacturing date on the wrist reinforce! The only difference I could see between my rifle and an English Enfield was the shape of the muzzle/sight guard, which was flat sided compared to the oval shape of the English product.

    When I finally used "the load" of 16 grains/2400 under a 200 grain bullet, I found that I could smack the range gong at 200 yards all day long. It actually got to be boring. That $39.95 special sits, carefully cleaned and oiled, in my rack of shooters.

    Hick, you have yourself a real gem there. Hang on to it and enjoy it for years.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check