DP Rifles
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Thread: DP Rifles

  1. #1
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    Default DP Rifles

    Hey guys... I've been having a yarn through PM with 87mustang regarding DP rifles. I set about chasing up the spiel I put together a while back on the topic to put some rationale behind the Gunboards policy of not discussing returning these rifles to live fire.
    The information I have pasted here is a compilation gathered from several sources, the main one being Peter Ladlers articles posted over at milsurps... Links to which are posted in the stickies above, courtesy of Badger.
    I was thinking we could leave this open for discussion here for a period, looking for any information to add or corrections to be made before it becomes a sticky that we can refer posters to in the future.

    Thanks in advance for reading it... Only point, I ask that we don't get onto anything that could suggest restoring DP rifles to live firers is safe.
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    Drill purpose rifles were to be assembled from parts deemed unserviceable. Rifles that had been inspected and gauged as being not suitable for repair (which generally means the principle component, the receiver has failed gauging, as anything else can be replaced and the rifle returned to service). Condemned rifles were stripped and any parts gauged ok could be re used for maintaining live weapons, any parts that failed gauging were down graded and set aside or destroyed.

    When an order for drill purpose rifles was received, the scrapped receivers were, by the instruction, assembled with down graded parts where possible and finished to the same standard as a new service rifle. So... Other than the DP stamps and without the Master Armourers gauges, there is no way to tell a drill purpose rifle from a new from the factory, live rifle.

    Drill purpose rifles were utilised in many training activities that were deemed likely to cause damage to the rifles. Things like bayonet training, parachute training, obstacle courses etc. By having a store of DP rifles to conduct these activities, a unit did not risk damaging their front line weapons.

    A receiver could be scrapped for any number of reasons. The big problem faced here is most of these things cannot be checked by your local gunsmith, even if he was aware of them (which most are not) There was a couple of gauging functions, the tooling for which was only available to the master Armourer. He was the only person with the authority to scrap a weapon. For example, a rifle that failed headspace could have a number of issues. It could be the barrel,the bolt head or wear in the receiver. Often a combination of all. Before a longer bolt head was fitted, the wear in the receiver locking lugs was tested with the master bolt gauge. The receivers locking lugs are case hardened. If the wear on this case hardening had thinned it to a pre determined dimension, the receiver was considered not safe for continued use and it was scrapped. If wear in the boltway allowed excessive lateral movement of the bolt body, the receiver was scrapped. Once again, it was the master Armourer who made the call.

    There has been unconfirmed opinion that some new rifles had at some point been downgraded to DP to fill a requirement. I am yet to see any documentation or anything else official that proves this... Bottom line is, a rifle stamped DP was deemed unsuitable for live fire and did have some form of job done on it so it could not fire live ammunition, but could cycle drill rounds normally. This usually was the striker (firing pin) cut off and the bolt head hole plugged with a nail, fitted from the inside and peined over into a drilled counter sink cut in the bolt face.
    This process was very easily reversed, but that did not (often) happen in service. (Yes, I have seen DP rifles with the markings struck out and made live firers again, but this could have only been done with the use of the gauging mentioned earlier) The standing order was that DP rifles were never to be fired. By replacing the firing pin and the bolt head (as a minimum, some had other alterations made...) they can be fired... But there is no way of knowing if the receiver of your rifle is safe or not.

    It might have, for example, failed locking lug tests, but still have enough strength left to pass a proof round, but who could say how many more rounds before the inevitable catastrophic failure?

    By default, for the sake of safety, I consider every DP rifle to be unsafe to fire, simply because by the process it was deemed so by a master Armourer. If there was new rifles stamped DP, there is no way of being sure which they may be without the appropriate tooling. Their appearance is not a guide as the DP's were finished to the same standard as a new rifle.

    I have tried explaining this to number of people on different international forums but because some of them are "inherently right", (the earth is flat!!!) you cannot teach them anything. Instead I advise them to have their gunsmith write them a letter to say the rifle is safe to fire. It won't do them any good when the 18.5 tons per Square inch chamber pressure being produced on the other end of the bolt, an inch in front of their faces lets go and kills them, but their family might be able to sue the gunsmith and get some money from it.

    Apologies if I seem a little harsh here, but I won't pull any punches WRT safety. I tell people if they are going to continue to fire it, at least let the person beside you at the range know it is a DP so they can move to a safe distance if they want.

    ---------------------------

    Open to comment....
    .....if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and talks like a duck, but enough people call it a chicken, then it will be a chicken!

    think about it...

  2. #2
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    You haven't mentioned the ones that have been in a fire, still gauge ok but the heat treatment is buggered.
    We do not know why the DP stamp was applied only that it was not to be fired after application.

  3. #3
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    Very well said. I do wonder if anyone has fired a DP rifle with a drilled barrel safely (Mythbuster style ) just to see what happens.

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  5. #4
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    Hey Doogal, I remember meeting a gun store worker who had his big toe for a thumb because his real thumb was blown off when he fired a dp rifle. The hole drilled in the barrel was hidden under the top hand guard

    Sent from my HTC_0P6B using Tapatalk

  6. #5
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    Default DP = Death Possible

    Great topic and one that is often on my mind. I restore some pretty sad looking old rifles, some of them DP marked.

    As I understand, as now and in the past, with British and Canadian service rifles (other commonwealth forces too no doubt), rifles get check out by a weapons tech once a year and gauged for wear and serviceability to a standard.
    If a problem of any kind is found, a work order is generated and the rifle goes off to the gun plumbers for repair. When it comes back, it is good as new.
    DP rifles however, are out of this maintenance circuit. They get zero attention, other than checked off as inventory.

    So if you are shooting a DP, realise that you are shooting a rifle that has had zero maintenance while in service, and now that it is surplus, it has been maintained, or not maintained, by previous unknown owners. Have at her Darwin!!

    I have DP rifles that are now very pretty, firing pins intact and perfectly capable of firing ball round. I have rudimentary gauges (headspace, bore, throat), as far as I can tell, they check out just fine. In every aspect, they are live rifles that appear to be in good condition..

    I already have favourite rifles in my collection that I shoot the crap out of and enjoy their company. I don't need to shoot the DPs.
    I admit, I am often I am tempted, I think about maybe with a light hand loaded cartridge, it SHOULD be ok, right?? But I let common sense and fear be my guide.
    If I just have to test my latest DP marked project, I will fire a primered case to prove the mechanism.

    The DPs sit on the rack with the rest of my collection, I handle them and examine their markings the same as my shooting rifles. I love em just as much.
    One is cadet marked so is PROBABLY nothing wrong with it and down graded because it was obscolete, bright shiny bore, tight action. It is quite possible that it is perfectly fine to shoot. But I just don't know. Miss matched barrel with a Big DP on the barrel nock's form only, nowhere else on the rifle (so the receiver is good right?? Wrong!).

    I also have a T10 parachute and harness dated 1965, the thing is mint! It has a big red painted area with TRAINING ONLY stencilled in big white letters on the front of the tray for all to see. I don't think that it was ever used much, more for display and a visual aid. Quite obvious that it was taken from new issue inventory and marked up to be a training aid, there looks to be nothing absolutely nothing wrong with it. Anybody want to borrow it and go jump out of a plane??? Sign a release first and you can use it!
    The only time that I gamble is at the card table. I like fast women and loud motorcycles (or is it fast motorcycles and loud women?, both are dangerous). I take enough risks as it is. I would feel stupid explaining to St.Peter about the bolt sticking out of my right eye socket.

    I do know others with DPs that they have shot a lot and used for hunting over the years with no problems. But that next round could give Complete Catastrophic Instantaneous Disassembly. Nobody could tell me otherwise. But MAYBE they MIGHT be right, it PROBABLY would be quite safe 'for the rest of your life' (ending with the next round fired).

    It is all fun and games until somebody looses an eye.....
    Last edited by Englishman_ca; 04-16-2017 at 02:54 PM.
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  7. #6
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    I only own one "DP" rifle, an 1889 MLM I*. Skennerton appears to have data indicating that some of these were marked "DP" from new. Doesn't matter to me as I have no plans of shooting it. I would never buy a DP marked rifle with plans to shoot it but all these warnings in this thread lead to a question: In general, Lee Enfields are remarkable for the paucity of documented catastrophic failures (a comforting fact for a present day user of a 100 year old rifle). Are there documented cases of "DP" marked rifles failing catastrophically as it is likely many are being used around the world by optimists. And by "catastrophic failure" I mean bolt sticking out of the eye (as suggested by Englishman_ca) not a stupid accident like the guy alleged to have shot his finger off by firing a rifle with drilled chamber- that's, obviously, not a failure of the rifle.

    Ruprecht

  8. #7
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    Ah yes, the DP marking "dilemma" (to many that is, me there is no question). I have reposted Mr. Laidlers comments on DP rifles to several facebook "enfield enthusiast/experts" who alternate back and forth with various excuses as "well my gunsmith checked the rifle over and its OK" to "i cant have a gun i don't shoot".

    A DP rifle fired with a live round could be completely safe for the rest of your life, or it could fail next round. Is it really worth it? After all, it only takes one bad experience with a rifle to have a lifetime of issues. Is a finger really worth shooting that .303 DP rifle that cost some hundreds of dollars? In this day and age in the US nearly any type of hospital visit is easily going to be more than the cost of a DP marked Enfield, from a pure money perspective. If you loose an eye? A finger? Several fingers? Why risk it? There are more than enough NON DP Enfields floating around to not even bother.

    And then every once in awhile you get somebody who insists that it means "Delhi Police"

  9. #8
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    There was a good object lesson on the subject that showed up a year or three ago on Badger's site. A gentleman posted some pretty ugly photos of the aftermath of shooting a DP No.4. The hole drilled through the chamber had been covered by replacement wood and the rifle had been sold to him as okay to shoot...inspected by a gunsmith, etc. He got off relatively easy, didn't lose the whole thumb.
    "If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen." --- Samuel Adams

  10. #9
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    What are opinions about DP rifles that have been commercial nitro-proofed post service by the London or Birmingham Proof Houses?
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  11. #10
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    I would be curious as to how many of these there are. Would those proof houses even do such a thing? Surely they know the DP story!

    Quote Originally Posted by Englishman_ca View Post
    What are opinions about DP rifles that have been commercial nitro-proofed post service by the London or Birmingham Proof Houses?
    And we didn't blow up, so we got that going for us. Which is nice.

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by limpetmine View Post
    I would be curious as to how many of these there are. Would those proof houses even do such a thing? Surely they know the DP story!
    Yes they do exist.

    That is part of the 'problem' with the 'proving system'.
    They are a commercial business who are paid to do a simple, single, test on a firearm, it either passes, or it fails. The firearms history is of no concern to them.
    If it fails it fails and cannot be sold.
    If it passes, no one knows if the action has been so overstressed that on the next firing it will 'explode'.

    The proof house has done what it has been paid to do, and the owner has a firearm that can be legally sold.

    I guess its like buying a second-hand car - you have it checked over and there are no problems (at the time of checking), but when you drive it home, the fuel tank develops a leak, the car bursts into flames ................

    Was the car 'safe' - YES (at the time of the test).

    Caveat Emptor


    "Just because Science doesn't 'know everything', doesn't mean you can fill in the blanks with whatever fairy story most appeals to you" Dara O'Brien


    All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

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    I think the forum owner is right;for offering any encouragement,or even a favorable opinion could involve you in ruinous legal action.Something best avoided.Regards John.

  14. #13
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    I wanted to point out a dangerous area for collectors and would be amiss not to.
    I can only offer a negative opinion.

    To some owners with limited knowledge who might come by such a DP marked rifle and seeing Brit nitro-proof marks, it would not be unreasonable for them to assume that if the firearm checks out and appears to be in good mechanical condition, it would be safe to shoot.

    Often I see modified receiver rings, the flat being a little wider than normal suggesting that the flat had been shaved a touch. Sometime to remove Military District markings or similar, but I am sure that DP gets removed too. It is illegal in most countries to remove serial numbers, but not DP marks.

    DP on the woodwork or furniture means nothing. Tons of DP take off parts used to restore rifles.

    I have also seen commercial proofed rifles that wear the 'twin sisters' condemnation mark (two R back to back) where Ordinance has deemed that the arm is fit only to be broken down or scrapped. Way worse than a DP cos it is definitive, that is how I read condemned.

    Another instance where you will often see reproofed DP rifles is with the conversion to 22 rim fire with sleeved barrels. Usually the trainers have the old 303 proofs scrubbed on the left with commercial .22 proofs on the right. But the forces generated by the diminutive 22 cartridge are a fraction of that of the 303.

    I believe that some of these were contracted by the Brit Govt. Commercial proof would suggest sale through The British Gun Trade post service.
    Last edited by Englishman_ca; 04-17-2017 at 12:59 PM.
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  15. #14
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    My '41 Lithgow is matching except for the bolt and stock. It is a clean, nice looking rifle. The bolt is DP marked, and it appears someone prior had attempted to buff/grind off the DP. After noticing this I finally pulled the stock off and there are traces of yellow paint up around the rear sight base. Then I observed, previously unseen in my joy at this good looking rifle, traces of yellow on the buttstock. The receiver top/knox form area is flat to begin with. Well it is still flat but has been buffed. My '20 Lithgow has the "2MD" or something stamped there. this one is CLEAN.

    I thought ohhhh someone/P.O. put new wood on the rifle, and the trued up the receiver top for a scope mount. I had a grand idea of sending the rifle to Brian Dick and have a new bolt fitted up. Something deep inside must be smarter than me because I never sent the rifle. The little I shoot these days, and the fact I have a nice 1920 Lithgow, well you know.

    This is not to slam or shame the gentleman I purchased it from. Honestly I cant remember if the DP bolt was ever brought up. Right now it is a nice representation of a 1941, with magazine cutoff intact.
    t
    Last edited by tahoe; 04-17-2017 at 06:11 PM. Reason: info
    /Steve C

    Lithgow 1920 No I MK III
    Lithgow 1941 No1 MK III
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  16. #15
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    Fully agree with the intent/message of this thread that DP MARKED RIFLES SHOULD NOT BE FIRED.

    I have about a dozen DP marked Enfields - purchased knowingly as examples of particular types and I would not consider firing them or returning them to firing condition if they are not. They consist of couple of Indian ShtLEs, couple of Lithgows, couple of Indian P'14s, a .303 Martini and a MLE)

    However, I have one DP marked rifle which I have fired and will continue to fire. I hesitated to mention this because I did not want to detract from the message of this thread with which I agree, or to provide any basis to suggest DP rifles should be returned to firing status.

    This rifle is a No2 MkIV* converted from a 191? DP MkIII by Parker Hale during WWII.

    As mentioned above - this was a standard .303 MkIII which had been downgraded to DP status but then in 1941-2 had its barrel relined by Parker-Hale as a .22 trainer (No2 MkIV*)

    This contract is documented: On May 23 1941 Parker Hale got a contract for 2000 No2 MkIV* to be produced from "cond. DP rifles" (see Skennerton, 1988, British Small Arms of WWII Skennerton Publishing p9)

    So this is a previously DP Marked rifle which has been officially rebuilt (lined barrel) as a .22 rifle (and according to Skennerton's list of contracts there were quite a lot (2000) done, given that .22 trainers are more likely to survive I suspect many are in circulation)
    Obviously .22 is a much smaller calibre, lower pressures etc and it should be noted all the DP marks are lined out (including the small one on the foresight protector/nosepiece - obviously not a load bearing part)

    The rifle was also renumbered to match (H prefix) in all regular locations, had the new model designation stamped on it etc.

    I have included photographs of the markings below - which also show later British commercial proofing on the original (but relined) 1917 barrel (with PH stamp and DP crossed out)

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    SO.... for sake of completeness I am mentioning this here.

    As I said at the outset, I fully agree that DP rifles should NOT be rebuilt and should NOT be shot. This officially relined and redesignated weapon is an exception. To me that the official conversion bothered to line out all the DP marks suggest this is NOT just a trivial mark but is something to be taken seriously, and I do and will.

    Cheers.

  17. #16
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    Good thread Son, thanks for putting it up. And all other contributions.

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    Along with the .22 No. 2 rifles 4thGordons lists, there is one other "DP Marked" rifle I would have no qualms with shooting - and that is the NZ Carbine. It would seem that these carbines got marked DP simply because they were obsolete; most had nothing more than the firing pin shortened.

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    This is a great thread!
    When did they stop stamping a DP designation?
    As a newbie, wondering how many rifles should now be considered unserviceable or structurally compromised?
    What indications did armorers use to determine a rifle be designated DP?

  20. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by MVolkJ View Post
    Along with the .22 No. 2 rifles 4thGordons lists, there is one other "DP Marked" rifle I would have no qualms with shooting - and that is the NZ Carbine. It would seem that these carbines got marked DP simply because they were obsolete; most had nothing more than the firing pin shortened.
    I kind of agree but there is always the chance some were DPd because they were out of spec & how can you be sure it would be fine just because most were just down-graded? My NZ carbine is DP marked with a cut firing pin & has a VG+ bore & its going to stay that way as no-one would be able to guarantee to my satisfaction that it would be safe, plus if it was to 'let go' (me aside) that's $1600+ down the drain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 5th Batt WWCT View Post
    I kind of agree but there is always the chance some were DPd because they were out of spec & how can you be sure it would be fine just because most were just down-graded? My NZ carbine is DP marked with a cut firing pin & has a VG+ bore & its going to stay that way as no-one would be able to guarantee to my satisfaction that it would be safe, plus if it was to 'let go' (me aside) that's $1600+ down the drain.
    Plus 1 on this.
    I have to a DP marked NZ carbine and I know the previous owner hand loaded mild loads for it and fired it but I will not be doing that for the reasons as above. I have an RIC I can shoot if I have a hankering.

  22. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by MVolkJ View Post
    Along with the .22 No. 2 rifles 4thGordons lists, there is one other "DP Marked" rifle I would have no qualms with shooting - and that is the NZ Carbine. It would seem that these carbines got marked DP simply because they were obsolete; most had nothing more than the firing pin shortened.
    DP rifles were disabled BECAUSE they were for Drill Purpose only, not to make them Drill Purpose only.

    The methods of disabling are detailed in the LoC's, and yes, a lot just had the striker cut off. They did not need to do any more as a soldier did as he was told and did not want to fire a rifle that had been deemed unsuitable for live fire by someone who new a lot more than he did. It was just to make sure that it was safe if some idiot tried it.

    If a model of rifle that had been in service for years was removed from service, it was most likely because they were not only being superseded, but also, on average, were beyond economic/ safe repair anyway. Not enough life left to be held in reserve, sentence the lot without the expense of inspecting them all.

    Do you have the instructions and gauging used to determine what receivers could be reused and what receivers should be scrapped? No? so you cannot be sure if any of these rifles was safe or not....

    Is it REALLY worth the risk? Saying "it would seem..." does not exactly fill me with confidence.
    .....if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and talks like a duck, but enough people call it a chicken, then it will be a chicken!

    think about it...

  23. #22
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    I don't disagree with those points - but consider that the entire class of NZ Carbine was rendered DP. They're all (basically) marked DP. Thus, there had to be a reason other than "these rifles are bad" that put them into that state. The reverse is also true - if they did not inspect those carbines individually (or use any gauges or instructions) to determine that anything was wrong with them, we cannot assume that all of them are unsafe.

    This doesn't mean that I would consider any particular NZ carbine to be safe to fire without doing basic inspections (headspace, etc) - just that I would not condemn the NZ carbines as a whole because of the DP marks almost all of them bear.

  24. #23
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    Well here is the trap. I'll play devil's advocate...

    I have non DP marked beater rifles that appear to be dodgey, drilled and tapped, vise marks on the metal, chewed up screw slots. I dont even think about firing them, too much of an unknown. Which I think is the smart thing to do.

    I understand what you are saying about the DP NZ carbines. Some look perfect, but they are no exception. The story is that they were downgraded to DP probably because they were just obscolete?
    That could well be???

    I have a NZ carbine that has DP marked only on the receiver ring, so it is a semi-DP? Semi-safe?

    It has a DP marked receiver ring, a replacement mismatched barrel (no DP mark), mismatched bolt (no DP mark) and a mismatched sight leaf. From what I gather, this is a parts gun typical of what Kiwi armourers put together for cadet use. I have compared markings and serial range of the replacement barrel (purchased as a spare barrel from the factory) and it all jives with other similar carbines in collections. Nothing is renumbered, so I doubt if anything was matched or gauged to ensure it was within safe specs for live fire. Maybe it was and it failed? I don't know.

    I do know that it is the one arm that is probably not built for firing ball, or are Kiwi armourers just lazy and don't renumber? It even has a steel marking disk in the butt showing that it was down graded in 1919. But as it is an assembly of mismatched parts, there is no way to know if that disk is original to that carbine. My guess is that it probably is. If so, then I have to understand that the carbine has not been classed as a live fire arm for 98 years.

    I also have an 1891 MLM Mk.I* that was downgraded to DP in 1892. There is zero wear on the thing. Not even marks on the bolt rail or to the finish on the feed ramp. It looks to be fine, but it is a DP, I don't fire it....

    Drill Purpose = training and display. Drill purpose being not just on the parade square, but loading and unloading drills, field stripping, crawling around in the mud, and everything else one would do with a live arm except fire the damn thing. That is why it is still functional.

    In a similar vein,
    What does 'NOT FOR BALL' mean?

    or,
    What does 'FOR BLANK FIRE ONLY' mean?

    Just a guide or suggestion?

    If you ever thought of going rappelling? I know of a 120 foot vertical drop rock face. You can borrow my kit that says 'FOR GROUND TRAINING ONLY'. I won't tell you what I have done with that rope outside of training or how old it is, but I can tell you that dynamic kern mantle is very strong and makes a great inertia snatch rope to pull a jeep out of a swamp.. The rope looks perfectly good, but is it good enough to let your life depend upon it? I certainly don't know.

    Same deal, good looking DP climbing equipment.
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    I suppose it all comes down to how much risk one is willing to take. I certainly do not advocate reactivating any DP rifles that have been disabled - in any way. If the NZ carbine has the firing pin shortened then hang it up and leave it alone.

    I would feel much more confident firing an NZ carbine with mild loads than I would firing any number of dodgy, non-DP marked rifles I've seen imported from India.

  26. #25
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    Lets do a risk assessment.

    Hazard = DP marked rifle.

    Risk = mechanical failure causing bodily injury or death.

    Reward = the satisfaction of making the rifle go bang and maybe hitting a target.

    Risk outweighs the reward when there is a simple way to mitigate the risk.

    If the reward is simply shooting guns, then put that DP down and pick up one that is a known to be safe.
    Same reward. Same equipment and set up, just a different gun.
    If the reward is shooting the DP without it blowing up in your face, dont put it up to your face, or dont shoot it.

    Would it be such a loss not to shoot THAT DP marked one? Mitigate the risk, switch out rifles.

    No different than inspecting a round on the line and visually finding what could be the start of a case head separation, or old milsurp stuff with corrosion on the brass ready to shatter.? You would put that round aside, cos you just don't know if it would harm you or damage the gun.

    Or maybe you don't inspect your ammo either?

    Yippee kayay MF! Here, hold ma beer and watch this!
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  27. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Englishman_ca View Post
    Lets do a risk assessment.

    Hazard = DP marked rifle.

    Risk = mechanical failure causing bodily injury or death.

    A risk assessment is a statistical kind of thing. If you fall off a cliff there is a 100% certainty you will be acted on by gravity. To suggest there is a quantifiable risk associated with using a type of old firearm there should be documented examples of catastrophic failures. We know there are marked DP Lee Enfields being shot and, as Englishman_ca suggests, probably some being shot unknowingly where the marks have been eliminated. Even with DP rifles being part of the population of used rifles there seems to be virtually no examples of catastrophic failures of LE's when proper, standard ammunition is used. Surely no military would only remove rifles from service when they reach the point of being dangerous to fire. Out of spec or beyond economic repair are not necessarily equivalent to dangerous, are they? Many non-DP marked rifles are also probably out of spec after many years of post service use.
    Back to statistics- with "low number" Springfield '03's there is hard evidence supporting a real probability of catastrophic failure and injury in the event of a case rupture. The statistician in me would like to see something similar for DP marked Lee Enfields or even Lee Enfields in general to support the blanket ban on use of DP marked rifles. My background in statistics, incidentally, is in wildcat oilwell drilling where you rapidly learn that if there is even a small chance of something bad happening to you, it probably will!
    I have no stake in this argument and would not personally shoot my DP marked rifles but the thread seems to be open to discussion so I would simply ask for documented examples of failures.

    Ruprecht

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    Ah, but that's the rub, isn't it? If we don't have the facilities and gauges to determine whether a DP rifle is safe/unsafe to fire, do we have the facilities and gauges to determine whether a non-DP rifle is safe?

    There are plenty of rifles out there marked EY and DP that are perfectly safe to fire, and not all of them have been rendered non-functional. There are also plenty of Indian surplus rifles out there that sure as heck deserve to be marked with a big fat DP and never fired again. Also note that there are a fair number of DP-marked rifles that also bear commercial proof house test marks (more flies in the ointment?).

    All you can do is have your rifles checked out by a competent gunsmith and go from there.

    (Bear in mind I don't advocate shooting DP rifles - and have said so many times in the past - this purely for the sake of argument)

  29. #28
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    Yup, all to do with risk. The question is how much is acceptable. A brand new firearm in good condition has a risk of failing, any machine does.

    High risk is considered acceptable to some if there is a high reward. EG you might jump into a raging river to pull a child out and save them from drowning. You could possibly drown too, but high risk, high reward. In you go!

    Jumping into a raging river to save a stick floating down stream. Same risk, but low reward. Probably would not try to save the stick.

    Being charged by a grizzly bear and all that you have is somebodies unknown hand reloads and your DP. High risk but high reward. Shoot the bear, dont get eaten!

    Shooting at a paper picture of a grizzly with your DP. Lower risk, but lower reward. Shooting that gun that day is worth risking your eyesight or good looks? Maybe if you are cavalier about shooting and don't give a crap. Just let me know when you are finished so that I can shoot mine.

    Low risk - Low reward. Why bother?

    And for statistical analysis, the historical record of a Lee Enfield actions blowing up....I have never heard of it happening. Nope, can't think of one instance other than with reactivated deactivations.

    I have never heard of a DP blowing up other than the instances of drilled holes through the chamber hidden by the wood etc.

    I have heard of component failures such as the bolt head shattering or the lower locking lug cracking, but no catastrophic failure. I have seen examples of cracked receivers, and bulged barrels, buggered up for sure, but not going off like a grenade.

    However, Murphy's Law applies.
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  30. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by MVolkJ View Post
    Ah, but that's the rub, isn't it? If we don't have the facilities and gauges to determine whether a DP rifle is safe/unsafe to fire, do we have the facilities and gauges to determine whether a non-DP rifle is safe?

    There are plenty of rifles out there marked EY and DP that are perfectly safe to fire, and not all of them have been rendered non-functional. There are also plenty of Indian surplus rifles out there that sure as heck deserve to be marked with a big fat DP and never fired again. Also note that there are a fair number of DP-marked rifles that also bear commercial proof house test marks (more flies in the ointment?).

    All you can do is have your rifles checked out by a competent gunsmith and go from there.


    (Bear in mind I don't advocate shooting DP rifles - and have said so many times in the past - this purely for the sake of argument)

    Even a qualified gunsmith is unable to detect the metallurgic changes caused by intense heat, without destructive testing. And it is known that a large number of such rifles were in a warehouse fire, and were DP'd. So encouraging the "get it checked, it'll be OK" mantra is incorrect, IMO.
    And we didn't blow up, so we got that going for us. Which is nice.

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    Maybe this should become a sticky as this question always becomes topic at least once a year.

    I had a DP marked rifle, with the DP stamped onto the top of the receiver ring and also in the butt. This rifle had all matching numbers and appeared as issued from the factory. As I have a friend who is a qualified armorer, we took it apart (everything disassembled) and individually went through each of the critical components and tested them. No holes had been drilled in the barrel (which was a 9/10) and no holes in the receiver. Result, the rifle was perfect in every way and the bolt and head spacing was all good.
    Why then was it marked DP?
    I seem to remember that a previous thought bubble was that some perfectly good rifles were DP'ed and issued to cadets?? However, this rifle had no paint stripes indicating cadet issue!

    Also with Englisman's post and What does 'NOT FOR BALL' mean? I have a Martini-Enfield Artillery Carbine with this stamped on the knox and what does it mean?

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    Quote Originally Posted by limpetmine View Post
    Even a qualified gunsmith is unable to detect the metallurgic changes caused by intense heat, without destructive testing. And it is known that a large number of such rifles were in a warehouse fire, and were DP'd. So encouraging the "get it checked, it'll be OK" mantra is incorrect, IMO.
    Agreed - and I've also seen firearms that were in a house fire be restored to firing condition with no indication that anything had happened to them. Undoubtedly those firearms were later sold off, likely to unsuspecting buyers. Not every DP rifle was in a fire.

    We don't really know what's going on with any of the surplus rifles we own. We can only make educated guesses based on what we know to be true, and what can be ascertained with the resources we have.

    Again, to reiterate, I'm not suggesting that DP rifles be fired or restored to fire. I agree with the "risk is not worth the reward" in this case.

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    Really Great Thread and it is nice to see intelligent discussion. I learned of DP making on this forum and have always tried to educate pawn shops what to look for so that they do not unknowingly sell on a DP. So what I have not seen discussed so far are the .410 Muskets. I have a 1914 LSA that has struck through DP markings and the Conversion markings dated 1931. I initially fired blanks through it then bought some the the Indian 1960 Ammunition in the neat little crate. I have fired a few of those. (probably about 5) and have no desire to shoot more. Definitely a strike through DP that looks identical to the one in post #15. Any thoughts about these Muskets. It seemed more of a logical repurpose of a downgraded rifle (Prison Guards and Railroad Guards).

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    Just to reinforce what a couple of posters have alluded to :

    From Peter Laidler - Examples of 'non-worn out' firearms converted to DP.

    Not only were these worn out rifles put into the pot, but we later learned, several thousand extensively fire damaged No4, L1A1 rifles and Bren guns that had been involved in a massive fire. These were aesthetically cleaned down, rebuilt to DP standard and profusely marked JUST so that there could be no doubt about their status. Oh, they looked very nice but what had gone on under the surface was a matter of conjecture. Would YOU fire one? I’ve been an Armourer for a couple of years and while I or your local gunsmith could examine one and give it a bright clean billof health, would YOU trust it. NO, I wouldn’t either!

    Let me give you another example too. NO dates here of course but ‘recently’ several hundred assorted weapons were recovered from a fire ravaged/damaged ship, sunk in low water (and later towed out to sea and scuttled). These were all quickly earmarked for scrap and eventually side tracked for DP/Training use. Like the other example, these were also cleaned, and refurbished, painted and ‘restored’ to aesthetically ‘serviceable’ condition. Oh, they looked good but within a couple of years, these had started to rust from under the welds, seams and joints.


    "Just because Science doesn't 'know everything', doesn't mean you can fill in the blanks with whatever fairy story most appeals to you" Dara O'Brien


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  35. #34
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    Does anybody know of anybody who shot a Khyber Pass made rifle and the rifle survived???

    Usually taken to be wall hangers, but if it will chamber a round......

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  36. #35
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    Well, there are Khyber Pass rifles, and there are Khyber Pass rifles. Some of them are poorly-made crap that aren't intended to be fired - wall-hangers for tourists and the like. Then there is the stuff that's intended for actual use by local tribesmen. While that stuff is certainly crude by modern manufacturing standards, and is probably made of sub-par materials, it does get used on a fairly regular basis over there with the ammunition they have available to them.

  37. #36
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    Yup, some of the souvenir ones seem to be gussied up factory actions. A Sht.LE with skid wood stock and boogered nosecap to ressemble a cut down long Lee 'range rifle'. Just another group of firearms that I steer away from. I do find them interesting in that they have handmade components. I can appreciate good file work! I even tried squatting on my garage floor, but my legs dont like it.

    I have recently been working on some Nepal cache Francotte type rifles. Mainly restoring or replacing the woodwork, the action I just clean up and fix mechanically. If I can get it to cock and click, it is good to go.

    Very tempting to try with a ball round, but for one I dont want to damage my project, the wood would likely fail, and two, most importantly, I dont want to damage myself. Some people shoot them, but with a track record of them blowing up (ka-fooking-boom) in service, I am not going to roll the dice. Maybe I SHOULD clip the tip off the striker?

    I would love to have a shootable one, and I will keep buying them in the hope that a nice one will come my way (yeah right!) that I can bring back to shooting condition. The barrels are made by winding strip steel on a mandrel and hammer welding. No doubt dodgey even when new.

    I note that in Nepal service, headspace was maintained and adjusted with a ball peen hammer.
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  38. #37
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    OK>>>> Time to nip a few misconceptions in the bud before the earth turns flat....

    1) "Ah, but that's the rub, isn't it? If we don't have the facilities and gauges to determine whether a DP rifle is safe/unsafe to fire, do we have the facilities and gauges to determine whether a non-DP rifle is safe?"

    DP rifles were imported into the US without having been proof fired as they were not to be on sold as live rifles. The importers sold them as DP and then idiots either did not obey the warnings, or on sold without passing on the information about being DP! Thats how so many of these rifles ended up being fired (more on this below)
    The vast majority of functional rifles went through the civilian proof house upon being sold out of service.
    After this, in private ownership, all bets are off anyway. There is no way of being sure your brand new remchesterby is going to hold the 50grains of pistol powder you accidently reloaded with. It's the nut behind the wheel's responsibility.

    So whats different about a milsurp? One thing I will say for sure, if you are unsure about anything, there is a wealth of experience and knowledge to draw on. If your headspace is becoming out of spec on your No4, you just go out and buy a no3 bolt head for it and away you go again WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG!!!!! In the armourers instructions, the receiver has to be checked for wear on the locking lugs before a no2 bolt head can be approved for fitment. There would be very very few cases where a size 3 bolthead could be used because the receiver or the bolt body were likely worn, and if the bolt body was found to be at fault and the receiver gauged ok, then a new bolt body would mean back to a size 1 bolt head. If the receiver was at fault, then DP!!!!



    2)"There are plenty of rifles out there marked EY and DP that are perfectly safe to fire, and not all of them have been rendered non-functional."

    NO!, not true.
    LoC entry (only one of many) 25903 dated 21 Feb 1923 stated ALL DP rifles issued to troops and those already in hands of troops will be rendered by armourers incapable of firing SAA in accordance with the following instruction....
    It might be different in the American army, but when an instruction was issued to the British military, it was followed. So, the statement above about them not all being incapable of firing is pure tripe. Take a step up a few lines where I mentioned DP rifles being on sold.... These are the ones that were bought cheap, had new strikers and bolt heads fitted, then on sold to unknowing shooters... this has been going on over there for thirty years! You cannot tell me they arrived not disabled.

    Lets consider what might happen if a receiver was DP because it was a bit beyond wear limits on the locking lug case hardening.
    So now the hard surface is thin. Over (indeterminable) time, firing rounds through the rifle is causing percussive force on the hardened surface that it no longer can withstand. The softer material under the thin layer of case hardening is now being peined by the load it is getting and is being extruded. This is effectively now increasing the headspace of the rifle every shot, maybe not measurably, but over a series of rounds it will be. The lugs will likely be damaged unevenly, leaving one lug of the bolt taking the most load as the other lug is on softer material. Could this be a symptom of this fault?

    Click image for larger version. 

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    .....if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and talks like a duck, but enough people call it a chicken, then it will be a chicken!

    think about it...

  39. #38
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    There were indeed some DP/ZF marked No. 4s that reached these shores without being disabled. IIRC these came out of India or Pakistan. I personally inspected several of them on a dealers' table many years back, and they were all in rough shape, with the importers' tags still attached, but nothing had been done to them to disable them. Additionally, a large number of Australian cadet rifles came in at some point (some marked with DP, some with paint bands, etc) and none of them had been deactivated.

    Finally, I have seen a DP-marked rifle that also bore 1950s-era Birmingham commercial proof marks. Presumably someone reactivated it and then had it proofed, and it passed.

    We really can't say never or always. Too many variables...

  40. #39
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    Case hardening is very thin, only a few thousandths of an inch at most. It is used not so much to increase the load bearing capacity, but to provide resistance to wear. Having two thou of higher carbon steel on the surface will not magically withstand 'percussive force on the hardened surface' much more than the softer material a couple of thou below. I agree that it will increase load capacity, but not to any measurable degree.

    Later the process was changed to induction hardening, which goes a little deeper.

    I believe that the body was considered toast if the hardened surface of the lug pockets was worn through because then keeping headspace in spec then becomes a challenge due to rapid wear. Past it useful life span, worn out.

    Let me tell you about somebody that I know that restores older Lee Enfields. Often the headspace is too large and even with the longest bolt head in the bins, it cant be brought back into spec. This chap takes the bolt head to a machine shop where the bolthead is spun in a lathe and the face turned back about 1/16 inch. A 'cap' is machined and braised onto the bolt head and everything turned up back to round and a new surface machined to give the required length.

    This has the effect of restoring headspace to within limits. All good?

    Well not exactly to armourers' methods, but a way to revive a worn receiver and bolt. Replacement parts for 100 year old rifles are getting harder to find. Alternate methods will come into vogue over the next 100 years to fix them.

    The negative to this is that the pockets for the bolt lugs and the bolt lugs themselves are worn and little case hardening remains. Unless lubricated, rapid wear will occur and headspace will increase due to friction as the rifle is cycled, not so much due to forces of recoil.

    Rifles repaired this way seem to be holding up with no change in headspace after maybe a hundred rounds. The lugs are well matched and set into the pockets from years of use, no change there.

    Some might say that this is a dangerous thing to do. Here I will agree. But note that if the lug pockets are worn, then the boltway is probally sloppy like the proverbial 'sausage in the alley way', which would make the receiver junk anyway. I look for signs of the cocking piece bent dragging in the receiver channel, that tells me the thing is very worn. Something I see on DPs a lot.

    But it is a work around for those who dont have a selection of large bolt heads. We will probably see more of it in the future. It is something to look out for. A bolt head with a very thin annular band of brass behind the face, sometimes almost invisible.
    Last edited by Englishman_ca; 04-19-2017 at 11:47 AM.
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  41. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Englishman_ca View Post

    I note that in Nepal service, headspace was maintained and adjusted with a ball peen hammer.

    With Martini-type rifles, quite possibly done that way in British service as well.

  42. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by maxwell smart View Post
    With Martini-type rifles, quite possibly done that way in British service as well.
    No, no, no and No!


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    Had not planned to get involved in this discussion, but being ex RAEME and currently active Armourer, I will add a couple of points.
    1. No this thread should not be made a sticky..........for the obvious reason that there are erroneous statements from some that are counter productive to the point that DP firearms should not be fired.
    2. I am constantly checking components for fatigue and cracks, find a lot and they are appearing in SMLE's more regularly, Receivers overtightened or distorted , fatigue cracks on receivers and bolt, worn boltways and internal lugs.
    3. Hairline fractures around load bearing areas of bolts, especially the small lug, but ocaisionally the root of the bolt handle....not good.

    Without going to the expense of getting the relevant modern tests done and not having access to the old Armourers gauges you can only rely on what you know.........and that's where it all comes undone.......because you don't know that it is really safe to operate, nor is your recently purchased bunny buster, you just put your faith in the manufacturer and hope for the best.
    After all, it's only a little explosion taking place just in front of your eyes.

  44. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by fred2892 View Post
    No, no, no and No!


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    Yes, I should not have been quite so flippant.

    Parts would have been replaced as required, although instructions I have been referred to elsewhere do permit some minor blacksmithing to adjust block height/firing pin strike.

  45. #44
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    Thank you for your input, muffett.2008. Your knowledge and experience is appreciated as always.
    I did not know how this thread would go, and I have probably let a little more go than I normally would, but we are getting some more great information, especially about the PH contract trainers from DP rifles.
    I am hoping someone with a .303 with the DP marking struck through will come forward. I started contact with the owner of such a rifle a ways back on another site. When I asked for some markings pics he disappeared... I had the feeling the rifle was one of the trainer conversions that had been rebarreled back to full caliber long after leaving service, but didn't get the chance to investigate.

    I will shut this thread down eventually and incorporate any appropriate new information into a locked sticky based on my first post.

    Thank you all so far...

    Son.
    .....if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and talks like a duck, but enough people call it a chicken, then it will be a chicken!

    think about it...

  46. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by maxwell smart View Post
    Yes, I should not have been quite so flippant.

    Parts would have been replaced as required, although instructions I have been referred to elsewhere do permit some minor blacksmithing to adjust block height/firing pin strike.
    You are of course referring to drawing the lever 'horns' to adjust firing pin strike by hammering. Quite different to peening the rear of the receiver to improve headspace as is common on the native francotte type actions.


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