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Thread: .318'' groove No.4 Enfield, what bullet to use?

  1. #1

    .318'' groove No.4 Enfield, what bullet to use?

    Own a early N0.4 Mk1 Fazakerley Enfield rifle that I am getting ready to load for. The bore is a near mint 2 groove. Thought I would start by slugging the barrel before ordering up some bullets. Lubed the bore & a lead .314'' diameter pistol bullet, and ran it down the bore. The bullet measured .304"+(not quite .3045") by .318"+(again not quite .3185"). Measured with a good vernier caliper and a micrometer. To be sure I read the bullet 5 times. And just for good measure, ran a second bullet down the barrel and measured it. The results were the same. I have yet to shoot this rifle, though I have owned it for over 5 years, so do not know how military or commercial ammo would preform from it. The question I have is should I use a bullet like a jacketed 'J' bore 8mm Mauser bullet .318"diameter? What size cast bullet would be best? Thinking a 175 jacketed 'J' bore bullet would be best weight wise, so as to keep the load in the same weight category. Any advice would really be appreciated.

  2. #2
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    I would shoot it with some factory ammo to see how it shoots. If, horrible, then I'd try the Lee 90371, as cast w/Lyman #2, tumble lubed, w/10gr Unique. If that works okay, then I'd try it w/a double PC coating. Still NG, go to Lee 90775 using the same drill. Lee molds are inexpensive and you can always resell one here for a small loss. Smellies are great fun !

  3. #3
    Boolit Master Dan Cash's Avatar
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    Since you know the bore dimensions, order a mould dropping a bullet at 170 or so grains that will drop at .319 with your chosen alloy and shoot as cast. If you want more work, get the mould to drop at .320 or so and size to what ever pleases you.
    To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, the trouble with many shooting experts is not that they're ignorant; its just that they know so much that isn't so.

  4. #4
    Casting bullets is not an option for me,multiple surgeries on both hands. Have a heck of a time just hanging on to a cup a coffee, let alone a mold of lead. Guess I am looking for a recommendation of a bullet diameter. Even if uncommon, there are a few sources of odd ball size bullets I know of. What is a good diameter to start with, the groove size of.318 or .319?

  5. #5
    Boolit Master



    curator's Avatar
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    Paddywonka:

    2-groove Lee Enfields can shoot pretty well with paper-patched boolits. Do a search on this site and find LOTS of info from others who have found solutions. There is also Steve Regwell's site on loading for the .303 british: http://www.303british.com/id37.html

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    If it were me, I would want to know fired case neck ID and neck wall thickness and bump against barrel information prior to the start of making purchases.

  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy pacomdiver's Avatar
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    or if you wanted to do jacketed, find some of the 318 diameter bullets for the old 8x57j mauser bore or try paper patching a smaller bullet

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    The 2 groove barrels have deep grooves to allow a space for displaced metal .......so you should use a .312 jacket with a flat base.........its well known 2 groove barrels wont shoot boat tailed bullets........just wont,thats all......Using 318 jackets (if you could find them) might give a nasty surprise...............you can use any cast diameter that will fit the case and chamber in your gun............incidentally,30 cal molds work ok,if you use a small bit of filler under the bullet......I use oat bran,but the usual canola is ok too...........the filler seals off gas cutting before the bullet can expand to fill the bore properly.

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Yes, check out 303british.com and read David Southall's articles. He talks about 2 groove Enfields.

    I would also agree with john.k stick with standard .303 bullets if shooting jacketed. I don't own a 2 groove so not personal experience with cast boolits but I'd think cast should be no more than groove diameter too since with 2 groove there is a lot of metal looking for somewhere to go. I could be wrong on that but that's how I'd approach it anyway.

    If casting isn't an option then you may have trouble finding commercial cast at 0.318" but as mentioned, paper patching should be a reasonable option.

    Longbow

  10. #10
    So much good information, none of which I had found on the net before posting here. Steve Regwell's site is a wealth of good advice. David Southall's one page alone gives me hope for my 2 grove barrel. While I have never posted here before, have read many a thread. Knew this was the place to come to for help. Thanks all.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    There is nothing wrong with 2 groove barrels.......in the 60s and 70s ,there were many service rifle shooters using 2 groove barrels with the issue ammo.There was no detectable difference in scores between them..........the No 4 had a fairly short run ,because they wernt approved until 1963,and then the 308 took over in the early 70s,and the Sportco 44s were twice as accurate as the 303s,or converted #4s,so accurate in fact that target sizes were halved ....But even so,in the meantime ,the #4s displaced the #1/mk 111s almost completely,although some old timers said the #1 s compensated better at 800,900& 1000yds.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Check out the bullet casting firms. Some of them should have a .321 dia cast bullet you can use. Fairly heavy about 200 grains sized to your dimensions or just leave it alone with lube and gas checks. Get a lyman "M" die and between your loading dies ,the M die you should be ready to go. You may have to trim down the expander on the 8mm dies, just use a variable speed drill, and some abrasives to make it smaller than the standard .323. But shouldn't take that long.Frank

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy iron brigade's Avatar
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    I have a long branch Enfield with 2 groove rifling. After trying a bunch of different loads I stumbled upon H4198 that resides in my powder cabinet.
    22 grains and a NOE 316299 bullet. It Casts at .317 and size to .316. Will shoot into 2.5" groups at 100 yards.
    My bore is identical to yours size wise. Something to consider, just throwing it out there.

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master 303Guy's Avatar
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    Yours is an on spec two-groove bore. Do not shoot anything jacketed bigger than .313 through it. Try .310 - they work great in mine. With a boat tail!



    These are Highland 180gr soft point. Very accurate in my rifle. Notice how long the bearing surface is. I think that is why they shoot well even though they are boat tail.

    The thing I found with two-grooves (mine anyway - I have three) is they have a tapered throat. I don't remember the angle but mine taper from 8 mm down to 7.77 mm over 19 mm. I'll convert that to inches; .315 to .306 in .75" . I don't know if it's a straight taper - it looks like it.

    The problem with cast I found is that with a groove diameter boolit (.318) there is a lot of lead to squeeze down to .304 - it has to go somewhere and in my case, it went backwards in two uneven 'lobes'.

    Not sure if the uneven base shows here but this is the pic I found (I can see it but I know about it).



    My leaning would be toward a .318 or more cast with a shallow rebate or chamfer - the idea is to keep the boolit base square. Or as suggested, the use of a filler. I like wheat bran, sieved. Wheat germ is easier to work with and doesn't seem to leave anything behind in the case.

    Found a pic of my rifle's bore. Seeing it now, it's no wonder it doesn't seem to shoot cast too well.

    Last edited by 303Guy; 04-17-2019 at 02:59 AM.
    Rest In Peace My Son (01/06/1986 - 14/01/2014)

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  15. #15
    Thank you all for some really great thoughts posted, it was the best information & advice on two grove barrel bullet choice I have found anywhere. Couldn't find any .310'' bullets that did not have a long narrow ogive, and a boat tail base. Picked up some jacketed HORNADY 303/7.7MM(.312) 174gr Round Nose flat base bullets. They were the longest bearing surface I could find in their weight, a bit more in contact then the Speer equivalent. Will give them a shot over a moderate powder charge and see how they do. Most of my shooting is at 256 yards, but not till my load is proven at 100 yards. Thanks to all, Paddy

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    if you use a greatly oversize cast bullet ,you end up with a off centre point,and possibly uneven fringes of lead at the base.......these may blow off at the muzzle with enough muzzle pressure ,but that is also likely to cause inaccuracy.......so best to use a reasonable compromise in size.............and experience shows this is .316" in a 2 groove barrel......with cast bullets ,not jackets.......With jacketed bullets ,ive found the best to be some FN militaries that are .312 ,but with a small rounding of the edge at base of .313.......however ,now we must use a 312 dia commercial jacketed bullet,as the surplus is all gone.

  17. #17
    Actually have 5 or 6 boxes of FN manufactured .303 cartridges that I picked up a couple of years ago at a gun show. Be interesting to see how they shoot.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    My No.4 is a two groove with .317 grooves, I use .320 dia 32/40 cast bullets sized to .316 which is the largest dia that will chamber. I run the loaded rounds into a 8x57 FLS die with the ejector pin removed, the chamber neck area measures .343, running them through the 8mm die sizes the outside neck dia of my 303 rounds to .342 giving me .001 clearance.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master




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    I saw an old Ideal bullet mold on Ebay today that is a 165gr .319 rounded flatnose, flat base lead bullet that was originally designed for the early 8x57 (pre-K98 .318" barrels) and other early 8mm rifles. Should be easy sizing down for that .318 bore Enfield. (Lyman/Ideal 319247)
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  20. #20
    Boolit Master Good Cheer's Avatar
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    Wasn't there written up info in the older Lyman books (60-70's or so) about designs that worked well in two groove barrels?
    Just thinking out loud and trying to recommember. If I was at home I'd go to the book shelves and get it.

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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