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Thread: Enfield extraction problem

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy


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    Enfield extraction problem

    My new to me Savage # 1 Mk 4 has a serious extraction problem. First the rifle details, it has been sporterized.
    Car touches on stock removed and forend shortened. Barrel markings have also been removed. Barrel cut down to 21”, Parker Hale ramped front sight attached. Still has the flip rear sight. Serial numbers match. Bolt head is a # 3 with a new extractor.
    Now to the problem.
    With a factory load I saw I would have to firmly grip the forend to go the last 3/8” to cam the bolt closed. No “mad minute” for this one. Oh, same thing with the rifle unloaded.
    Today I shot 3 rounds of factory and 9 rounds of hornady 150’s loaded low pressure with H4895 to duplicate 30/30 load. I’m starting slow and will hopefully work my way to cast loads.
    The really bad problem
    I had this issue with every round. I had to let the Barrel cool before I could work the bolt. Even then it took 3-4 blows with the heel of my hand to raise the bolt. Then, it took 4-5 more blows to get the bolt back. It felt like it was binding on something. I even tried chambering a cartridge and then removing the magazine in case it was dragging on that. Nope, that didn’t help.
    Once home I looked at the fired cases. Most had very faint circular rings part of the way around the case. Not enough to constitute a scratch. There were absolutely no vertical marks on the cases like they were being dragged past “something”. The fired cases would easily rechamber and extract.
    Any advice would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    A couple of months back a good friend of mine had this same problem with his Martini Enfield in 303 Brit, my suggestion to him was to remove the barrel and lap the chamber a little and that did cure the problem. I believed the problem in his case was the chamber had a slight ring in it from wear or corrosion and the shell had to cool before it could be extracted past the swollen section of the shell. I think a chamber cast may well tell you a great deal, I used Sulphur to make a cast for my friends chamber. Hope this helps Regards Stephen

  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    The screws are too tight. Your action is in a bind. At least that is my guess. And it sounds like headspace is excessive indicated by the head separation clue on the brass. I’d quit shooting it and check it out.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Perhaps a Jugged Chamber caused by over torqueing of a poorly prefitted barrel. Do the shoulders look rounded ?
    Sometimes over torqueing caused stress lines in the chamber area which resulted in bulging of chambers past the receiver ring.
    This was only noted in No.4 rifles.

  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy


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    Quote Originally Posted by Multigunner View Post
    Perhaps a Jugged Chamber caused by over torqueing of a poorly prefitted barrel. Do the shoulders look rounded ?
    Sometimes over torqueing caused stress lines in the chamber area which resulted in bulging of chambers past the receiver ring.
    This was only noted in No.4 rifles.
    I got out the 3 factory cases in shot and compared them to the shoulders of unaired rounds from the same box. They are definitely rounded. I guess this is the problem. No sign of case head separation, that’s good.
    Thanks

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    I caused a couple of tiny ring bulges in my chamber using wads on top of fast powder......only took about 100 rounds ,when I noticed extraction effort was way up.........I lapped the chamber with (a) a 30-30 case ,split to remove the neck base bulge,and a 303 case split to remove the bulge just short of the shoulder....Both cases had a 1/4 rod inserted in the base for a driver....Used 400 grit abrasive.....The neck bulge was the worst ,exactly where the base of the bullet was in the case...The 30-30 case has a sloped shhoulder,and reformed the 303 neck a little.....more slope ,but took away the bulge ,and now cases are unmaked ,and flip out again............yep,its surely easy to ring a chamber......Wouldnt have believed it ,until it happened to me.

  7. #7
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    What I don't quite understand is why it is hard to seat a factory round and close the bolt. Seems as though there isn't enough room for the case to enter. Possible that a #3 bolt head is too large and maybe you should try a #1 or #2. Having to force the brass into the chamber might have something to do with the deformed shoulder. I've observed the rounded shoulder on some Lee Enfields, and not quite known what to make of it, as otherwise the cases looked fine and easily resized back to their normal shape when reloaded. If you can solve the entry problem, but still object to the rounded shoulder (assuming that it still exists after you solve the entry problem), then the only way to truly get rid of it is to set the barrel back a bit and recut the chamber. Lee Enfield barrels can be a bear to remove, so once you've got it off you might just go ahead and re-barrel with a
    commercial barrel.

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy
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    There is definitely something weird.
    The factory rounds should chamber easy and the fact they do not coupled with odd looking empties implies there is a chamber problem in my book.
    The circular marks and stiff extraction are sure signs of pressure. What do the primers look like?
    As the 303 headspaces on the rim it could be the wrong bolthead as mentioned above but the chamber should be the right shape and it is not as indicated by weird empties.
    Have a good look at the barrel for weird markings as you need to keep in mind a lot of wildcats and calibres have been put on 303 actions. Is it the original barrel?
    Really think you need a headspace check and chamber cast.

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master 303Guy's Avatar
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    Can you post photos of the fired cases?

    I have a rifle with rust pits in the neck area. Normal loads do not expand into the pits but low pressure shotgun powder loads do, jambing the cases, requiring a ramrod to get them out.

    I'm curious about the rounded shoulders? Many Lee Enfields round the shoulders and push them forward. SMLE's do anyway. Is that what is being referred to?
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  10. #10
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    None of the .303 chambers that I have experience with bear much relationship to an unfired round as far as shoulder location. They always move the shoulder forward when fired, so if I understand you correctly, I wouldn't be concerned about that particular aspect. It does sound like your chamber is rougher than a cob. Some polishing might be in order there, but don't go overboard. Worst case, Criterion makes and sells new barrels.
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  11. #11
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    I own a good dozen L.E.s, mostly No.1 Mk III*s, but also some No.4s. I'm pretty sure, being somewhat familiar with the Santa Fe sporters that we're talking about a No.4, also the O.P. mentioned a size 3 bolt head which wouldn't apply to a No.1.

    So, having fired all of the rifles in my accumulation, I have found that most all of them suffer to some extent from incipient head case separation evident in the fired brass. But, if one is in perfect headspace (sometimes hard to achieve!) they can come out looking like a new case. A couple of them do exhibit a rounded shoulder after firing, which is indicative of conforming to a chamber that is shaped like the fired brass. In my experience this is not necessarily bad, as like I stated in my earlier post they seem to re-size back to normal without ill effect.

    I almost never purchase a rifle with less than an excellent bore, so the odd chamber goes with the excellent bore in most of these rifles. I long ago purchased a bunch of brass and dedicated 100 cases to each individual rifle, and customarily neck re-size the brass only for that particular rifle. But, it occurs to me that these rifles were manufactured literally in the millions, in England, India, Canada, the U.S., and arsenal repaired in who knows where else. There are enough of these chambers with the rounded shoulder area that it's not uncommon. Although I own many of these rifles and have messed around with them since age 15-16 I do not claim to be a "know-all expert" on them, and can only go by my own observations and experiences. It could be that the rounded chambers resulted from worn reamers, but I kind of doubt that since the British were known to be such sticklers for quality control. I can speculate that it was done purposely, either at the original point of manufacture or subsequently as a modification, perhaps to deal with trench conditions dirty ammunition. Also a possibility, the effects of extensive firing with cordite propellant. I don't know, but it is a known, observed condition.

    The O.P.'s rifle seems to have chamber problems beyond the rounded shoulder area of the chamber, but that alone should not prevent easy chambering or extraction of the fired case. I doubt very much if Santa Fe Arms went to the trouble of turning these into sporters and then just put them out there without test or proof firing them, so if extraction is difficult due to irregularities in the chamber Bubba very likely scraped around in there with something he shouldn't have. If a smaller sized bolt head won't alleviate the problem, then the O.P. needs to have it examined by a gunsmith who will know how to proceed, be it polishing or re-barreling.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Lots of 303 chambers have the shoulder formed as two intersecting segments of a circle.....very few have sharp angles with cone connection.....and there are all the inbetweens with small to large radii instead of an shap angled shoulder..........Roy Weatherby wasnt the first.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    I wonder if you have some type of wildcat cartridge chamber. I know in this country when NSW decided that military cal's were not to be owned by the general public, many 303 rifles were converted to the 7.7x54 which was the standard 303 shell shortened by about 1/8'', to do this the barrel was pulled and thread shortened by the required amount re threaded and replaced this allowed everyone to keep their 303 rifles. Super and others made ammo by pulling the projectiles and running shell into a new die and cutting off excess shell length and replacing the projectile, all this was done with the original cordite charge in place although I have heard that a couple of sticks of cordite was often removed. I would not take much notice of the shape of the shoulder on the fired rounds as many of these rifles had the chambers enlarged in order to prevent sand and dirt from affecting chambering in battle as was common in the middle east. A chamber cast would be my first step. Regards Stephen

  14. #14
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    I would scrub the chamber, particularly the neck.
    Reassess.
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  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    You could have a broken piece of an old cartridge neck stuck in the neck area of the chamber just a guess on my part. Frank

  16. #16
    Boolit Grand Master 303Guy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leebuilder View Post
    I would scrub the chamber, particularly the neck.
    Reassess.
    Be well
    Good point.

    Something on head separation - I had this issue with a tight chamber, good headspace rifle. Three loadings was about it. Part of the loading process was feeling inside the case for incipient head separation with a repurposed paper clip.

    Well, My WWII armourer come gunsmith gave me tip. Luble the loaded rounds as one would a case for sizing. Never had a case fail again! Oh sure, I've lost cases to neck splitting and the long grass. Anneal the necks and they don't split. The long grass? Well, what's a case here and there when we get to go shooting in the field?
    Last edited by 303Guy; 12-12-2019 at 03:20 AM.
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  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    A couple of times I've found the chamber neck of a Enfield to be caked with hard baked fouling. This can cause an increase in the force needed for the bullet to exit the case neck and increase chamber pressure.
    When the fouling it that caked up normal cleaning methods, including chamber brushes, don't have much effect.
    I made a scraper from a piece of brass tubing with saw teeth filed into the mouth. Turning the tubing cuts away the fouling without scaring the chamber.
    The fouling came out in thin ribbons at first then as dusty granules that resembled pencil lead shavings.
    Once cleaned in this manner cartridges chambered easily and no more signs of excessive pressure.

    Later on I read of a similar bronze device issued with the Spencer calvary carbine. To avoid jams the bronze reamer was turned in the chamber every so often to break up heavy BP fouling.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    With the firing pin forward the safety will lock the bolt handle down. Check to see if the safety is completely disengaged when it is in the fire position. The safety may be malfunctioning because of having a burr on it that causes it to partially engage the bolt or the spring that retains the safety may be weak allowing movement during firing. It may have nothing to do with the safety; I only mention it because I once encountered a No.4 that had a "floppy" safety.

  19. #19
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    Phone jack: Virtually all of the Enfields (#4 Mk1's +)I have seen have chambers that were deliberately cut longer. The reason for this is during war time .303 ammo was made all over the Empire, and they wanted to make sure all of it would run. They didn't care about reloading the empties and since the case Headspaces on the rim anything happening in front of that was meaningless.

    If your cases look like the ones in the pic below they are fine. Neck size them only, preferably with a Lee Collet Die and you will get decent case life out of them. F/L size them and they'll fail in 2-3 firings.

    Your gun is probably a Parker Hale Deluxe Sporter ($75) as opposed to the PH Standard Sporter ($65) It was made a Deluxe Sporter by cutting the worn part off the end of the barrel, and the stock and installing sling swivels and the front sight. MIne came with a Santa Fe 5 round magazine which is worth more than the gun itself.. The Standard Sporters had decent Crowns to begin with and were left alone other than shortening the stock and removing the handguard.

    Try polishing the chamber with some 800 grit sandpaper with oil on a drill motor. That will probably fix your extraction problems.

    Randy
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  20. #20
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    Forgot to mention that I make one of the best Front Sight Adjustment Tools for #4 Mk1's out there.

    www.buchananprecisionmachine.com

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