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SMLE MK III models

Discussion in 'Rimfire' started by sobi1998, Feb 1, 2018.

  1. sobi1998

    sobi1998 Active Member

    Mar 18, 2016
    I've been wanting a MK iii SMLE for a while. I was at cabelas today in their gun library. They had two examples.
    1. Lithgow MK III $400
    2. Birmingham (BSA) SHT LE I** MK III $400
    The lithgow did not have a matching stock and was missing a couple small screws on the top.
    The other one looked much older and/or worn
    The BSA was worn on the grip where the date and crown would be
    Can anyone give me more info about them in general?

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  2. Moonpie

    Moonpie TGT Addict Lifetime Member

    Price ammo betore you leap.
  3. sobi1998

    sobi1998 Active Member

    Mar 18, 2016
    At this store they only had 2 brands, PPU and herders. Both $18-20rd. Soft point

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  4. Jakashh

    Jakashh TGT Addict

    Jun 30, 2010
    Sugar Land
    hence why I'd like an ishapore enfield for my first, or a "regular" one that I won't shoot often l o l
  5. MTA89

    MTA89 Lives in a van down by the river TGT Supporter

    Mar 10, 2017
    Almost Oklahoma
    I might be selling an Ishapore Enfield in the near future if you ever get up to DFW
  6. Moonpie

    Moonpie TGT Addict Lifetime Member

    OP, check the bores thoroughly. If the bores look like a rusty sewer pipe, pass.
    Get a headspace check if you can.
    The Lithgow looks like a WWII era gun with the coachwood stock.
    The other is a WW1 era gun but its been rebuilt as it has a WW2 cocking knob and non windage adjustable rear sight.
    Very common to see that.
    Of the two the Lithgow is the better made gun.
    There are literally about a dozen variations of Enfield as well as several different makers. Some rare, some very common.
    The No.1 MkIII and No.1 MkIII*** are the most common.
    The MkIII had a magazine cut off and windage adjustable rear sight. The early ones even had a "volley sight" attached on the side of the forearm. These were intended for very long range fire(1500yds+). They were pretty much useless and deleted on later models.
    The MkIII*** deleted these as a war time expedient that became standard.
    The Enfield buttstock came in several lengths. They could be changed to fit the troops the rifles were going to be used by.
    Reloading for them isn't difficult but brass life is short.
    The guns were built with sloppy chambers. These were combat rifles. They had to work in the mud and blood so chambers were oversized. Brass re-use was a non issue. Add in umpteem bazillion rounds fired in them and being near 100yrs old and your nice new factory brass gets the guts stretched out of it.
    Its very common to see a bulge on the base of fired cases.
    There will be many small stamps on the barrel, action body, bolt etc. These tell a story and can be quite a puzzle. They are proof marks, property marks, sold off surplus marks, etc.
    Ideally the action body, bolt, rear sight leaf, stock, will have matching numbers but most do not. These rifles were used by the United Kingdom and other militaries for over fifty years and have been rebuilt many times over.
    The No.4 rifles came along just before WW2.
    No.1 rifles headspace are set by the removable bolt head. A competent armorer had to very carefully hone down the bolt head to get the headspace correct.
    The No.4 rifles had different size bolt heads to facilitate faster and easier headspace setting.
    The cocking knob on WW1 era rifles is round. The WW2 era cocking piece is flat with serrations.
    If you really want to get into Brit Enfields I'd suggest you spend the $ and buy Skinnerton's book. It's the Enfield bible.
    I warn you. These damn things are as bad as Lugers!
  7. Berthier

    Berthier New Member

    Nov 28, 2016
    Headspace is over fretted about. More problems have been created by people checking headspace than by not checking it either by improperly using the gauges or because SAAMI decided in their infinite wisdom to change cartridge specifications on most non-US milsurp cartridges. SAAMI says the maximum headspace for .303 is .070. The British MOD states .074 and even that was extended to .080 during wartime for when armorers could not get the right bolt heads.

    You can learn a lot more about a rifle by firing it once and checking the spent case than any headspace gauge ever will.
  8. TreyG-20

    TreyG-20 TGT Addict

    Dec 16, 2011
    Are these rimfire Enfields?
  9. Moonpie

    Moonpie TGT Addict Lifetime Member

    Headspace is an issue.
    1.) Excessive headspace can be dangerous.
    Case head separation is a bitch. Fully loaded mil-spec .303 ain't cream puff. You do NOT want it.
    2.) The military never considered re-using brass so factory fresh ammo was fired once and brass discarded.
    Today, shooting the .303 Brit is an expensive undertaking. Reloading is pretty much the only affordable way to shoot it much. Brass is pricey.
    Long headspace greatly reduces brass life.
    If you shoot new ammo and trash the brass you're good to go. If you want to reload you want a tighter chamber.
    This also helps with accuracy.
    3.) Enfields are noted for long chambers.

    I had a couple of them rebarreled years ago.
    New barrels are probably unobtainium nowadays.

    OP if you do go there I have a bucket of misc parts for sale. LoL!
  10. sobi1998

    sobi1998 Active Member

    Mar 18, 2016
    To be honest I mainly liked the looks but hearing all the issues...

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