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Problem W/ A Lee-Enfield Mark I

This is a discussion on Problem W/ A Lee-Enfield Mark I within the Non-XD Handguns forums, part of the Other Handgun Talk category; OK - I got this rifle from a buddy, who wanted to see if I could fix it. "Sure - let me take a look", ...


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Old 03-05-2008, 08:25 PM   #1
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Problem W/ A Lee-Enfield Mark I

OK - I got this rifle from a buddy, who wanted to see if I could fix it. "Sure - let me take a look", I says....

The problem he was having is failure to chamber a .303R round. I checked headspace - looked fine. I checked the chamber and throat - nothing obstructing either and the space in the receiver for the cartridge rim is clear.

Put a spent (empty) case in - the bolt won't seat. I cleared the rifle manually, checked to see if the extractor was jamming - nothing - looks and works fine. Changed out the bolt with one from my Enfield Mark I - still can't seat the bolt on a cartridge. No cartridge - the bolt seats fine - no wiggle, no rattle. Put a round in the chaber and it won't engage the locking lugs.

Any ideas, folks? I know some of you are real experts on these old war horses..

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Old 03-05-2008, 09:20 PM   #2
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just take it to a gunsmith then tell him you fixed it!

btw did you check the headspace with an acutal .303 headspace guage or with a small flashlight and your assumption that it "looked" fine?
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Old 03-06-2008, 10:11 AM   #3
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Most Lee Enfields have generous chambers to allow for dirty conditions and after firing a case, they stretch out ALOT in the chamber and might not re-chamber without re-sizing. The 303 British headspaces on the rim, I believe.

First, have you cleaned the chamber? REALLY cleaned the chamber? If you have run alot of filthy surplus 303 through the gun, chances are the chamber has lots of extra filth that is hard to see and could be enough to make it hard to close with a case in place. The oonger chambers in Lee Enfields tends to build up a lot of junk at the throat and its hard to see. I'd clean and inspect the daylights out of it. THEN check the headspace. Usually, the Enfield's chamber gives the opposite problem - too much room in the chamber. When that happens, you'll notice fired cases are hard to extract and primers that look backed out of the brass cases.

The Enfield bad headspace issue is WAY overblown if you ask me. Every Enfield I have owned had headspace that was within spec. They're suposed to be a tad on the big side and not as tight as a 98 Mauser or M1903 Springer. Its how they were designed.

Second, what ammo are you trying? If you're using that Remington yellow/green box junk with the odd long round nosed bullets...toss them! Those rounds are crap! They don't feed form the magazine wirth a darn and the long, wierd bullet doesn't seem to seat well. The Lee Enfield was NEVER designed to feed a long, round nosed bullet like that. The Federal 150gr soft points have a better profile and will feed better, if you need a cheap hunting round. Most factory hunting rounds in 303 British are in the 150gr range. The Lee Enfield's sights are regulated for the Mk7 Ball load that has a 174gr bullet. Keep that in mind when sighting in!

If you try several types of ammo (including some form of the original Mk7 ball) and it still does not close and you have cleaned and cleaned like the devil...THEN I'd take it to a gunsmith.

I have NEVER heard ot a Lee Enfield being too short in the chamber...usually they're just the opposite!

The Brits did make different length bolt heads that CAN be swapped out to compensate slightly to correct headspace. You'd have to measure yours with a caliper and try a gun show, to find one that is shorter and it might work. This is an absolute last resort.

I am betting the chamber needs serious cleaning and its ammo related. Enfields are great shooters and run great with military Mk7 Ball but can be finicky with some of the modern loads that do not take into account the oddities of the Lee Enfield action.

I own four Lee Enfields (Aussie, British and two Canadians) and have played with them alot. Hope this helps...

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Last edited by Brickboy240; 03-06-2008 at 10:13 AM.
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Old 03-06-2008, 12:29 PM   #4
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Well, it could be a No. 3 Mk1, No. 4 Mk1 or a No. 5 Mk1 but I guess it doesn't matter.

First question, is the bolt head screwed right down as far as it will go?
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Old 03-06-2008, 12:54 PM   #5
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Are you SURE it's not a .308 Enfield??? That would explain why a .303 won't chamber...

Collecting and Shooting the Military Surplus Rifle (2006) - Surplusrifle.com

Look at these rifles. If it looks like that, mystery solved...

Last edited by Vic303; 03-06-2008 at 12:58 PM. Reason: added info
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Old 03-06-2008, 01:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vic303 View Post
Are you SURE it's not a .308 Enfield??? That would explain why a .303 won't chamber...

Collecting and Shooting the Military Surplus Rifle (2006) - Surplusrifle.com

Look at these rifles. If it looks like that, mystery solved...
I was thinking the same too, but can you post a pic of the rifle?
What kind of importers marks are on it? any description engraved on it?
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Old 03-06-2008, 02:29 PM   #7
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The 2A Indian 308 Enfields are fairly different and are clearly marked "7.62mm" on the buttsockets.

Yes! Make sure it is NOT an Indian Enfield marked ROF Ishapore.

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Old 03-06-2008, 06:15 PM   #8
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I was thinking the same thing.
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