Memories of the .303 Lee Enfield

Joined
Oct 28, 2018
Messages
3,816
Reaction score
6,135
Location
Wyong new south Wales Australia
Media
8
Hunting reports
Africa
1
Member of
SSAA
Hunted
Australia
Yep the Enfield was/is very adaptable, with sabot ammunition, different barrels. The P14 was converted to 30-06 by the Americans during WW2 (for a while). They are rugged and I've dropped a few, one

Yeah they're a rugged rifle - I've dropped a few, one
down a shingle slide into a river and had to dive to get it back, gave it a dry off and back in business.
@Cervus elaphus
I'm sorry to disappoint you but the P14 Enfield was not converted during the 2nd world war by the USA.
In 1913 the British developed the Enfield in 276 cal but ended up getting the U.S. to build them. WW1 intervened and the made them in .303 instead of 276. After production of the SMLE had caught up to what they had lost the British canceled their order. When America entered WW1 they didn't have enough Springfield rifles to arm their troops so converted the P14 to fire the rimless 30 ought six round. Hence the M17.

After the war Remington had a lot of parts left over a and produced the model 30 and 30S sporting rifles using M17 actions and straightened the bolt handle. This was the for runner of the Remington 721 then the 700s.
That is just a brief overview of the Enfields
The SMLE (Lee Enfield) is a great locking action for the 303. The Enfield is a front locking action.
Bob
 
Joined
Oct 28, 2018
Messages
3,816
Reaction score
6,135
Location
Wyong new south Wales Australia
Media
8
Hunting reports
Africa
1
Member of
SSAA
Hunted
Australia
As big a fan as I am of .303 rifles I hate the jungle carbines, I could use them for tomato stakes like @Bob Nelson 35Whelen wants to do with .243s.
@Skinnersblade
Now don't go being that harsh mate. Just take the but off the No5 and put a No4 but on it, bed the forend and you have a sweet rifle.
Nothing you double to that 243 will ever make it any good unless you neck it up to 308,338 or 358.
Bob.
 
Joined
Oct 28, 2018
Messages
3,816
Reaction score
6,135
Location
Wyong new south Wales Australia
Media
8
Hunting reports
Africa
1
Member of
SSAA
Hunted
Australia
I've just caught up on your .303 post from 2019 and the wildcats, how did you get on with the extra pressure of those big bores as the .303 bolt is only single lug ?. Lovely customization btw. I only ever carried a 5 shot mag, sleek and didn't snag on branches or clothes. Only carried 5 rounds, if I couldn't drop an animal with 5 I should have stayed home and watched the footy instead. cheers
@Cervus elaphus
The SMLE Lee Enfield is a dual lug rear locking action
You have the smaller lug locking into the left hand side and the long lug that extends from the bolt head to behind the charger bridge where it locks on the right hand side. This also give a 54 degree bolt lift.
Bob
 

Cervus elaphus

AH enthusiast
Joined
Feb 16, 2021
Messages
321
Reaction score
470
Location
Queensland, Australia
Hunted
New Zealand, Australia
I shot my first deer, a big red spiker, in 1959 with a fully wooded .303, aperture sights and a military solid round. Hit in the brisket it travelled 50 metres before dropping. This was at about the 20 mile peg on the desert road north of Waiouru. There were plenty of deer within a few metres of the road and a friend coming back south from Taupo at night hit a big stag crossing the road. The stag was killed but so was the light sports car.
The next deer I came across was opposite the Navy wireless station Irirangi, up the hill near the power pylons. I was stalking along the bush edge when I saw a pair of ears in a depression in the tussock 20 metres or so ahead of me. As I crept closer, the ears turned into a hare which bolted away. I stood up, and as I did so, a huge antlered stag also stood up just behind the depression, didn't wait to say hello and went down the slope into the bush like a freight train before I could lift my rifle. I swear that stag was as big as a Hereford bull and the wide wide sweep of his antlers are still burned into my mind's eye today. I wondered, on that day and others, if the .303 would have stopped him, I'll never know.
On that same property I shot other deer but nothing like that big one up by the pylons. This area was home to many big stags and their antlers were black, testimony to the mineral-rich volcanic soil. I struck the same feature among stags around the bases of the volcanoes Mt Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe where I hunted. Soon after that I invested in a new BSA Majestic 30-06 (sans muzzle-brake) and I shared this rifle for 20 years with other .303 rifles that came and went. The BSA featherweight model was beautifully made and kicked like a mule. My friend at Oaro in the South Island used a P14 model and exited a lot of deer goats and pigs, it was a heavy rifle, but very accurate.
About 1986 I bought for a ridiculous price a brand new Airforce issue N0.4 fully wooded unfired Lee Enfield, still packed in grease and oil paper, with bayonet, but then again I resold it for a ridiculous price, how much would that rifle be worth today?.
My last .303 I gave to my BIL when I left home for Australia, it was a typically cut down sporter with both 10 and 5 shot mags, open sights – he occasionally allows me to hold it for nostalgia reasons.
With today's ammunition choices, this calibre will still do the job on deer big and small. In the 1950's NZ Government deer cullers used this rifle as can be found in Barry Crump's excellent book “A Good Keen Man”. I met Crumpy in a Wellington pub back in the early 60's and we had a bit of a yarn about rifles.
Salute to the Lee-Enfield .303, like other classics, may it live forever.
Just want to add that in Queensland TV on the NITV indigenous channel, there is a program called "Hunting Aotearoa" on a Tuesday night around 9:30pm. Howie Morrison Jnr (big Howie's nephew) Matua Parkinson, Glen Osborne (ex AllBlack). Covers many places in NZ, pig hunting, deer, goats, all sorts. Worth watching and makes me homesick when they hunt in the areas I used to frequent.
 

Von Gruff

Gold supporter
AH legend
Joined
May 5, 2009
Messages
4,100
Reaction score
6,219
Location
south Otago, New Zealand
Website
www.vongruffknives.com
Media
1,613
Articles
3
Hunting reports
Australia/NZ
3
Hunted
New Zealand, Austaralia
There was always a good butchering lesson as well. Watched most of those that showed but a couple of the narrators/shooters were a bit difficult to handle so skipped a few episodes..
 

Cervus elaphus

AH enthusiast
Joined
Feb 16, 2021
Messages
321
Reaction score
470
Location
Queensland, Australia
Hunted
New Zealand, Australia
@Cervus elaphus
I'm sorry to disappoint you but the P14 Enfield was not converted during the 2nd world war by the USA.
In 1913 the British developed the Enfield in 276 cal but ended up getting the U.S. to build them. WW1 intervened and the made them in .303 instead of 276. After production of the SMLE had caught up to what they had lost the British canceled their order. When America entered WW1 they didn't have enough Springfield rifles to arm their troops so converted the P14 to fire the rimless 30 ought six round. Hence the M17.

After the war Remington had a lot of parts left over a and produced the model 30 and 30S sporting rifles using M17 actions and straightened the bolt handle. This was the for runner of the Remington 721 then the 700s.
That is just a brief overview of the Enfields
The SMLE (Lee Enfield) is a great locking action for the 303. The Enfield is a front locking action.
Bob
Yep, I had the wrong WW, noted. I understand that the M17 actions are still being used today?
 
Joined
Oct 28, 2018
Messages
3,816
Reaction score
6,135
Location
Wyong new south Wales Australia
Media
8
Hunting reports
Africa
1
Member of
SSAA
Hunted
Australia
Yep, I had the wrong WW, noted. I understand that the M17 actions are still being used today?
@Cervus elaphus
Art Alpin used them to make rifles for his big A Square magnums.
The M17 and P14 actions are get to g harder to get but m ale into beautiful rifles if you get a good gunsmith that knows how to lighten the actions into sleek sporters.
20200826_082621.jpg
20200826_082545.jpg
20200826_082630.jpg
20210220_125903.jpg

As you can see the rear of the action has been smoothed out along with the safety and other areas. I decided to keep the Dogleg bolt to keep its character. It is still cock on closing as it is faster to operate than cock on opening because there is less resistance on the cams.
Bob
 

Red Leg

Lifetime bronze benefactor
AH ambassador
Joined
May 19, 2009
Messages
6,570
Reaction score
18,908
Location
Texas Hill Country
Media
285
Articles
5
Hunting reports
Africa
2
USA/Canada
4
Mex/S.Amer
1
Europe
3
Member of
SCI DSC life memberships / NRA Patron Life
Hunted
Mexico, Namibia, RSA, Germany, Austria, Argentina, Canada, Mozambique, Spain, US (15 states)
Yep, I had the wrong WW, noted. I understand that the M17 actions are still being used today?
Obviously, the P17 actions have not been produced for nearly a century, but they are brutally strong, and like the P14 are still sometimes used for the basis of a custom rifle. However, the sight wings require a lot of milling if using an original military action. I have a between the wars .318 WR built by Cogswell & Harrison on a P14 and like most British rifles from the golden age, it is quite elegant. With a casual glance you would never realize that the action started out as a military spec P14.

WR 318 Cogswell & Harrison

@Bob Nelson 35Whelen beat me to it, but the last custom gunmaker to use them of whom I am aware was Art Alpin who employed the action to house some very powerful rounds in his magnum creations.
 
Joined
Oct 28, 2018
Messages
3,816
Reaction score
6,135
Location
Wyong new south Wales Australia
Media
8
Hunting reports
Africa
1
Member of
SSAA
Hunted
Australia
Obviously, the P17 actions have not been produced for nearly a century, but they are brutally strong, and like the P14 are still sometimes used for the basis of a custom rifle. However, the sight wings require a lot of milling if using an original military action. I have a between the wars .318 WR built by Cogswell & Harrison on a P14 and like most British rifles from the golden age, it is quite elegant. With a casual glance you would never realize that the action started out as a military spec P14.

WR 318 Cogswell & Harrison

@Bob Nelson 35Whelen beat me to it, but the last custom gunmaker to use them of whom I am aware was Art Alpin who employed the action to house some very powerful rounds in his magnum creations.
@Red Leg
Very nice I hope it still sees use and not a safe queen
Bob
 

Sarg

AH senior member
Joined
Aug 28, 2009
Messages
99
Reaction score
176
Media
13
Hunted
New Zealand - Australia - Sumatra - Kenya - Zimbabwe - Namibia - South Africa - Botswana - Alaska - Nevada - Hokkaido - Greenland - New Caledonia
Nice C&H @Red Leg & the 318 is a cool caliber !

I had a C&H 375 H&H on the same action but a lower grade than yours by the looks .

We have in NZ loads of BSA sporters built on the P14 in 5 different grades mostly in 303, I have seen very few 8mm here also, there are other calibers, but most of the custom work has been done, ears off, hole filled, action drilled & tapped & on the higher grade the bolts & floor plate are straight .

I keep buying them for projects then think better of it & sell them again, I don't like the way the safety takes a chunk out of the stock mainly !

BSA P14 Hole Filled.jpg
 
Last edited:

Cervus elaphus

AH enthusiast
Joined
Feb 16, 2021
Messages
321
Reaction score
470
Location
Queensland, Australia
Hunted
New Zealand, Australia
@Cervus elaphus
Art Alpin used them to make rifles for his big A Square magnums.
The M17 and P14 actions are get to g harder to get but m ale into beautiful rifles if you get a good gunsmith that knows how to lighten the actions into sleek sporters.
View attachment 390228View attachment 390230View attachment 390231View attachment 390232
As you can see the rear of the action has been smoothed out along with the safety and other areas. I decided to keep the Dogleg bolt to keep its character. It is still cock on closing as it is faster to operate than cock on opening because there is less resistance on the cams.
Bob

@Cervus elaphus
Art Alpin used them to make rifles for his big A Square magnums.
The M17 and P14 actions are get to g harder to get but m ale into beautiful rifles if you get a good gunsmith that knows how to lighten the actions into sleek sporters.
View attachment 390228View attachment 390230View attachment 390231View attachment 390232
As you can see the rear of the action has been smoothed out along with the safety and other areas. I decided to keep the Dogleg bolt to keep its character. It is still cock on closing as it is faster to operate than cock on opening because there is less resistance on the cams.
Bob
Nice customs, nice work.
 

Sarg

AH senior member
Joined
Aug 28, 2009
Messages
99
Reaction score
176
Media
13
Hunted
New Zealand - Australia - Sumatra - Kenya - Zimbabwe - Namibia - South Africa - Botswana - Alaska - Nevada - Hokkaido - Greenland - New Caledonia
Just ended up with another BSA P14 303 Sporter - SMLE MkIII full wood & Greener made 303 sporter, a rarer late model custom by Greener not a normal Lee Speed / BSA Sporter type .

Barrels are meant to be all stuffed but on a heap of cleaning into the night on the Greener I think it might shoot ?

Even picked up a Mannlicher Schonauer M1903 Cavalry Carbine that I can add to my small collection of 1903's, missing it's magazine rotor unfortunately.

Disappointed now that I only just sold my Mannlicher Steyr Carbine as it would of made a nice set !

 
Last edited:
Joined
Oct 28, 2018
Messages
3,816
Reaction score
6,135
Location
Wyong new south Wales Australia
Media
8
Hunting reports
Africa
1
Member of
SSAA
Hunted
Australia
Just ended up with another BSA P14 303 Sporter - SMLE MkIII full wood & Greener made 303 sporter, a rarer late model custom by Greener not a normal Lee Speed / BSA Sporter type .

Barrels are meant to be all stuffed but on a heap of cleaning into the night on the Greener I think it might shoot ?

Even picked up a Mannlicher Schonauer M1903 Cavalry Carbine that I can add to my small collection of 1903's, missing it's magazine rotor unfortunately.

Disappointed now that I only just sold my Mannlicher Steyr Carbine as it would of made a nice set !

@Sarge
Very nice but I hope the P14 hasn't been butchered to cock on opening. The old cock on closing is a lot faster to operate and as slick as a hot knife thru butter. The Timney is a great replacement for the old.
I've been playing around with P14s and M17's for a long time and have never encountered a BSA model. That would have to be one of the 1st and made in England before they were made in America.
Is the Greener a bolt action or martini. Great find either way.
Bob.
 

Sarg

AH senior member
Joined
Aug 28, 2009
Messages
99
Reaction score
176
Media
13
Hunted
New Zealand - Australia - Sumatra - Kenya - Zimbabwe - Namibia - South Africa - Botswana - Alaska - Nevada - Hokkaido - Greenland - New Caledonia
Thanks Bob, the Greener is on a SMLE action I think which is way different as most of the nice Sporters are on the MLE action.

I'm more than a little deranged & have 10-15 BSA (maybe more as I just bought two more out of the country) & other Sporters know as Lee Speeds from 303 8mm 375 & missed a 6.5X53R once !

We have a lot of the BSA manufactured P14 sporters in NZ & not much value here now, I really didn't want this but I needed to take all these rifle out of the old shipping container !

Very glade I did now as the Greener barrel comes up better & better, it is just soaking a bit more right now lol !
 

leslie hetrick

AH fanatic
Joined
Jan 27, 2018
Messages
745
Reaction score
1,683
Location
pa. u,s.A.
Media
440
Hunting reports
Africa
1
USA/Canada
1
Member of
several sporting clubs
Hunted
several
i owned 11 .303 british army rifles, but due to the rapid rise in surplus firearm prices i have sold quite a few rifles from many countries. the only mk-4 i own now is this 1943 long branch that was the best shooter out of the british army rifles. it has all matching numbers with a ex bore.

DSCN1298 (2).JPG
DSCN1299 (2).JPG
DSCN1300 (2).JPG
DSCN1292 (2).JPG
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Rule 303

AH fanatic
Joined
Oct 6, 2015
Messages
796
Reaction score
814
Location
Brisbane
Media
6
Hunted
Australia, New Zealand, Zimbabwe & Namibia
The but pad on the Jungle carbine is misleading as is the name. They were designed as Paratrooper rifles the bat pad to rest on the vibrating fuselage of the aircraft. However they did not see service with the Paras but were found to be very handy and accurate enough for jungle warfare. I do not find them to hard to shoot at all. Try a Remington classic stock attached to a 35 Whelen you do feel that or a Ruger No1 in 303.

I had a Winchester made M17 in 8X68S that went to the saw. The action was soft and the locking lugs peened the action back.I would say some smith worked it before hand and softened the action up. However the Remington made M17 in 358/338 RUM is a top shooter and no problems. As that one was worked on by a smith I should not have used to make a 350Rigby Magnum and it was botched I had it made into the RUM but still has the odd feeding issue. So having another one made on a Rem action to take back to Africa if I get there.
 

Ike85123

AH fanatic
Joined
Mar 21, 2021
Messages
509
Reaction score
883
Location
Arizona, USA
Media
1
Member of
None
The but pad on the Jungle carbine is misleading as is the name. They were designed as Paratrooper rifles the bat pad to rest on the vibrating fuselage of the aircraft. However they did not see service with the Paras but were found to be very handy and accurate enough for jungle warfare. I do not find them to hard to shoot at all. Try a Remington classic stock attached to a 35 Whelen you do feel that or a Ruger No1 in 303.

I had a Winchester made M17 in 8X68S that went to the saw. The action was soft and the locking lugs peened the action back.I would say some smith worked it before hand and softened the action up. However the Remington made M17 in 358/338 RUM is a top shooter and no problems. As that one was worked on by a smith I should not have used to make a 350Rigby Magnum and it was botched I had it made into the RUM but still has the odd feeding issue. So having another one made on a Rem action to take back to Africa if I get there.
I have an old 303 that belonged to my dad. He hunted africa with it in 47 to 52. I have respect for the round, due to his use and the countless novels. I have never shot it or even looked at it since my dad passed in 1993. My dad passed and i put his safe in storage. I would like to have it looked at, mayne squeeze a round from it.
A truly world renowned rifle !
 

Forum statistics

Threads
37,346
Messages
712,041
Members
66,527
Latest member
JestineFlo
 

 

 

Latest profile posts

Matt W wrote on Jody's profile.
Hi Jody,
I have been looking for ideas on the best way to display my European mounts from Africa. I came across some of your shield work and was wondering if you would be willing to make one for me? If so, please let me know the cost. I like the shield with the two spears that you built for a member years ago. Thanks.
cal pappas wrote on Mnelson2's profile.
Nelson. Is this message a PM format. I want to send you my email, but don't know if this is the cirrect way to do it. I'm at <pappas@mtaonline.net> Send me an email with your phone and I will call you about a skull I have. I went to school in Boston and am from Bernardston in the west part of the state. Moved to Alaska in 1984 adn never looked back.
BeeMaa wrote on Justbryan's profile.
Sold a Blaser scope mount to him. He was a pleasure to do business with.
BeeMaa wrote on 375Fox's profile.
Sold a Blaser scope mount to him. Was a pleasure to do business with.
Tundra Tiger wrote on Alaska Luke's profile.
Hi Luke. Just saw your message. I am in Dillingham, and have been since 2002. I took an elementary teaching gig here, taught here five years, and then got a job with Togiak National Wildlife Refuge as their education and outreach specialist. Recently I just got a promotion and now I'm the Visitor Services Manager. Prior to DLG I spent 6 years teaching for Lake and Pen in Nondalton.
 
Top