Lee Enfield Accuracy
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Thread: Lee Enfield Accuracy

  1. #1
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    Default Lee Enfield Accuracy

    Hi all,
    As we know the Lee Enfield rifle has some very clever little tricks to improve it’s accuracy including up-pressure on the barrel at the bayonet cap provided by a small spring.
    is there any evidence that when a rifle is ‘cut down’ into a ‘sporter’ that there is a fall off in accuracy as this system is removed when the rifle is emasculated ( note to reader: I included the word ‘emasculated’ to satisfy those who see ever sporting 303 a travesty against God’s law
    With ageing eyes it is difficult for me to be very objective about the accuracy of my 303s in original condition but I saw an episode of Bloke on the Range yesterday where, after an initial clean up, an old BSA in full wood delivered what I though was a very good group.
    regards
    al

  2. #2
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    The L-42 and L-39 with the shortened/cut down stock and open barrel are proof that the up pressure on the barrel isn't needed for accuracy. I've read individual reports that cut down barrels with a proper crown are as accurate as the shooter. Proof? Can't offer any up other than that.
    You remain marginally disappointing. Nevertheless, I still like you ... not a lot, but I like you ....

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by limpetmine View Post
    The L-42 and L-39 with the shortened/cut down stock and open barrel are proof that the up pressure on the barrel isn't needed for accuracy. I've read individual reports that cut down barrels with a proper crown are as accurate as the shooter. Proof? Can't offer any up other than that.
    Whilst you are absolutely correct about the L42 / L39 being accurate with 'cut down' furniture I'm not sure it is a valid comparison.
    The barrel is much 'heavier' and less 'whippy' on the 7.62 L42, much as the No4 barrel is less 'whippy' than the No1 Mk3.
    Is barrel weight/dimension the critical component, rather than 'full-wood' in accuracy.

    Despite having less wood, the L42 weights in at 9.7lbs, whilst the No4 is 'only' 8.8lbs.

    I think a closer comparison (despite the different barrel length) would be the No4 with the No5

    The MoD accuracy requirements would suggest that the 'lack of support' plus the shorter barrel did have an effect :

    SMLE TESTING

    For the SMLE All rifles were tested for accuracy by the Small Arms Inspection Department at 100ft, and 10% were also tested at 600 yds. All rifles were fired from a special mechanical rest, known as an Enfield Rest, and a special Telescope layer was used for laying an aim. The Enfield Rest was designed to simulate the conditions under which a rifle would be held when fired from the shoulder, and was provided with hand wheel adjustments for laying an aim. Trial shots were first fired and, if necessary the foresight was adjusted laterally,or replaced by one of a different height, until the shots on the target were within the required limits. Five rounds were then fired, and four of the five shots had to be contained in a rectangle 1 inch broad by 1˝ in high. Rifles which failed this test were rejected. At 600 yds 10 shots were fired, nine of which had to fall within a 2 foot circle.

    No 4 RIFLE TESTING

    For the No 4 Rifle, the accuracy test was the same at 100ft ten per cent of all rifles were then fired at 200 yds when six of seven shots had to fall in a rectangle 6in x 6in , the point of mean impact having to be within 3 inches of the point of aim in any direction. Ten per cent of rifles fired at 200 yds were again fired at 600 yds when 6 out of seven shots had to be in a rectangle 18inches x 18 inches the permissible deviation of point of mean impact being 9 inches up or down, or left or right. Two per cent of rifles were fired from the shoulder, ten rounds being fed into the magazine by charger and fired rapid to test “feeding up” and ejection. After these tests the barrel was inspected to ensure that there was no expansion in the bore or chamber and that it shaded correctly from end to end. (Was not bent)

    No 5 TESTING
    The firing test to which the No 5 rifle was subjected was the same as that for the No 4 at 100ft. It was not tested at 200 yds but 10 per cent were tested at 600 yards when the acceptance was ten out of ten shots contained in a rectangle 36 inches x 36 inches. Two per cent of the No 5 rifles were also submitted to the same functioning test as the No4 rifle.

    How much of the No5's inaccuracy was due to a shorter barrel, and how much was due to being free floating ……………………… ?
    When I'm gone, tell my wife to sell my 'toys' for what they are worth, NOT what I said I paid for them.

    "He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever".

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  5. #4
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    Yes, the accuracy of the rifles are quite impressive, especially when you consider that the accuracies mentioned are the worst acceptable, ergo the majority of rifles would have performed better. As to what accuracy the average footslogger was capable of, I do not know.
    I suspect that extremely few ordinary troops (snipers excluded) ever took a carefully aimed shot, in ideal conditions and known range at a clearly visible enemy. Hence the accuracy a Lee Enfield was capable of probably greatly exceeded what it was asked to do in action.
    I have a small armoury of rifles, mostly Lee Enfield, Some in full wood but the working girls are cut down with good quality scopes.
    As it turns out, all of my sporting rifles are fitted with heavy barrels.
    I sight my rifles in at 250m, the target being a very heavy suspended piece of steel 6” wide and about 12” high. I expect my rifles to hit that quite solidly, which most are capable of.
    I also have several mausers, my scoped 98 in 30-06 is a particularly reliable hitter on that target.
    I battle a bit with the thin blade foresight on my SMLEs still in original condition
    al
    Last edited by Alan L; 06-30-2020 at 03:13 AM.

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan L View Post
    Yes, the accuracy of the rifles are quite impressive, especially when you consider that the accuracies mentioned are the worst acceptable, ergo the majority of rifles would have performed better. As to what accuracy the average footslogger was capable of, I do not know.

    We should remember that these were all battle-rifles and not target rifles, MoM (Minute of Man) was sufficient for the job they had to do.

    There is an old saying (something to the effect of) :

    The Germans went to war using Hunting rifles
    The Americans went to war with target rifles
    The British went to war with a military rifle


    I don't remember the exact words, but I think that's close enough
    When I'm gone, tell my wife to sell my 'toys' for what they are worth, NOT what I said I paid for them.

    "He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever".

  7. #6
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    Shortening the forend on the No1 Mk3 shortend the distance for accurate shooting much more than the No4 unless No1mk3 had a H barrel fitted in which case it was similar to a standard No4 barrel in short furniture. The L42 and L39 are different beasts, heavier barrels.

  8. #7
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    Alan,

    The MOD test focused on the 3 Models in normal issue configuration. To my view it proved the free floating No.4 barrel was more accurate than the No.1MkIII non floating barrel and the inclusion of the No.5 ...well its barrel is shorter and its got the flash hider stuck on the end to alter harmonics and its results are hopelessly flawed when testing accuracy against both service rifles ..longer barrels and longer sight radius. Rifles vs carbine...Rifles will be more accurate.

    I know: heresy to criticize MOD testing but they did compare apples to feathers to refrigerators..none in same food group. They went to a free floating barrel when they developed the No.4 because it was more accurate than a No.1 so this test merely validates the No.4 was superior evolution of the Enfield rifle.

    I agree with the statement the Enfields were more than likely more accurate than they needed to be for combat purposes. In the post war era when Enfields were afield at shooting matches in Canada and UK in great numbers *, accuracy was indeed far better than MOD test results posted here..far better. Point: rifles more accurate than need to be for war.

    Seems to me we don't have a test by MOD where No.1's and No.4's with fore ends altered to sporter style were tested for accuracy. I suspect results would be heavier No.4 barrels brought in better accuracy. But we don't have that and no one to my knowledge has posted such a test. I am sure there are members here with sporterized No.1 and No.4 rifles so their experience would be helpful to draw a conclusion rather than a hunch...my hunch is No.4 will always be more accurate but thats subjective.

    As to the No.5 which I believe has more accuracy than given credit for...and in hands of civilians has less accuracy probably due to Flinch of recoil, plus decades of myths of it being inaccurate are hard to combat. Once rumor...things become fact about this rifle . Condition of many are , frankly not wonderful and that validates inaccuracy rumors.

    Dismissed and ignored, my report posted on these boards indicates the No5 has about 2 MOA accuracy at 600 yds. Here is the link and the report. Please continue to ignore the test , we don't want an accuracy rumor about the No.5 to go to waste...LOL. Here it is and conclude what you will.

    https://forums.gunboards.com/showthre...acy-at-600-yds

    That is the link and I shot on 28 April 2013 as follows:

    Default No.5 accuracy at 600 yds,
    Here is todays results. Here are the facts:

    Rifle: No.5 dated 1945, BSA manufacture
    Condition: mint bore, overall 90% orig. condition
    Loads for testing at 300 yds: 148 gr Soviet FMJBT pulled bullets and 4895 powder, Privi cases, Tula Lg Rifle primers
    Elevation 13 clicks up on rear sight
    Accuracy: 8 inches which is 2.5 max MOA at 300 yds. No doubt old eyes and surplus bullets do not do this justice but I call it 2.5 MOA at 300 yds worst case results.

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

    600 yds, weather went from sunny to light drizzle rain and I had some beginnings of target acquisition / sight picture issues with iron sights. Eye sight: I give 70% to old eyes and 30 % rain / grey overcast. No winds but we had no wind all day today
    Shot Reload 1: the pulled surplus 147-148 gr pulled Soviet bullets over IMR 4895 with 45 clicks on rear sight: no hits on target, went 50 clicks: no hits. I have to assume the rounds are striking low but I ran out of this load and had to stop. Goodness knows when i can find more IMR 4895 powder !
    Shot Reload 2: This is my 1000 yd Match loading for the No.4 Long Branch Canuck rifle with 2 groove bbl and awesome accuracy. The load is Varget ,.312 Hornady BTHP in 174 grain weight.
    Results: 13 inch group 600 yds at 2 inch below point of aim with sights at 55 clicks UP on rear sight. Then shot two more groups at 600 yds with sights at 56 clicks UP on rear sight and got a 12 inch group and then a 13 inch group with rounds landing 1 inch above point of aim.

    The 13 inch group with my match loading is the worst case results for today. Divide 13 inches by 6 (for 600 yds) and its shy of 2.2 inch accuracy or 2.2 MOA for 600 yds. Now, that is not shabby for a short carbine, my old eyes, and the fact the weapon was meant to kill Germans / Japanese , not register accuracy results at 600 yds. I claim my eyes and human error degraded the real performance of the weapon today. Nothing wrong with this jungle carbine. Maybe a small % is my learning curve how to shoot the carbine got into this scenario.

    Yup: heard all the tales of wandering zero, lightning cuts on receiver / knox form, snivels about trigger pulls and sights, horrors about recoil and muzzle blast... but you know, I think that is all fog. I own 4 of these carbines and recently decided to get drop dead serious about finding out how good / bad the weapon is and how far I can take it down range. I punched through all the nonsense and frankly, if one can't shoot a No.5 well, that bloke need to try harder. Of course if the condition of ones No.5 is not top form and is shot out, there is no fog involved. All of mine are in top condition. I will admit, it was a challenge but its a challenge you can work through.
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    * I did not mention Aussie rifle matches and I know they had them post war. Reason is here in USA, the gun magazines (what few we had in 50's & 60's) only had Canadian & UK match reports. Thus as a kid, all I saw was photos of SMLE and NO.4's in hard competition. Never anything about Australians. That said if those shooters of that era were here on this board, I am sure their evaluation of known accuracy performance would be an eye opener ..game changer. However, they're all long gone.

  9. #8
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    Two things the No4 is not a free floated barrel.
    Not all that era Aussie shooters are long gone or not still shooting.

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bindi2 View Post
    Two things the No4 is not a free floated barrel.
    Not all that era Aussie shooters are long gone or not still shooting.
    Bindi....so where is your accuracy commentary on the Lithgow, your silence is deafening !

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by milprileb View Post
    Bindi....so where is your accuracy commentary on the Lithgow, your silence is deafening !
    The short answer is look at the Bisley records for Australian shooters. A lot of rifle clubs museums have Bisley badges in them from Aussie shooters who competed there and other country medals. The H barrelled Lithgow held its own against the No4 on the range and certainly out shot the standard barrel No1Mk3s including the British No1Mk3s.

  12. #11
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    Had a HB MkIII* which was as accurate as my No4. But, the HB was not a standard issue rifle for the average infantryman.

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    Quote Originally Posted by staffy View Post
    Had a HB MkIII* which was as accurate as my No4. But, the HB was not a standard issue rifle for the average infantryman.
    Issued to marksmen in WW1. Was almost standard range rifle equipment. All HTs had one.

  14. #13
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    Hi all,
    Further to what I said regarding most footsloggers probably going through the war without taking a careful bead on an enemy soldier as per rifle range conditions, I believe that most humans are actually not capable of such calculated killing when their life is not in immediate danger or in the heat of battle.
    i think this was first determined in the American Civil War. Somehow, if this is indeed a fact, it brings me a great degree of satisfaction.
    I also believe that snipers were often disliked by their own side, not only because an active sniper near your position brings undue enemy attention to what might have been a relatively quiet sector but also sniping was just seen as rather distasteful.
    This seems to have changed with the more recent wars in the Middle East with sniping using various specialist rifles and calibers gaining popular interest with various Hollywood movies . I am rather dubious claims of kills at astounding distances. Not that I necessarily doubt a hit was achieved but unless you know what percentage of similar long distance shots missed, the information is rather irrelevant.
    regards
    Al

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    Took a lot of time from 2000 to 2012 to learn the techniques to make a Lee Enfield shoot. Built a few SR(B) rifles to see what it took.

    No 4 needs to have front barrel damping at the muzzle, or be center-bedded. That is if you are shooting MKVII SAA.
    Barrel reinforce pressure matters as well. heck all of the draws matter.

    3 different ways to center bed a No 4, all work, with different compensation points.


    Only Enfield design that doesn't seem to care that much about a barrel damping point is the P14. Pressure can vary from 1 to 5.5 of uplift and it really does not matter much. Packing a P14 will help though, in my experience, though such was never allowed, from 1934 to 1968.

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fritz View Post
    Took a lot of time from 2000 to 2012 to learn the techniques to make a Lee Enfield shoot. Built a few SR(B) rifles to see what it took.

    No 4 needs to have front barrel damping at the muzzle, or be center-bedded. That is if you are shooting MKVII SAA.
    Barrel reinforce pressure matters as well. heck all of the draws matter.

    3 different ways to center bed a No 4, all work, with different compensation points.


    Only Enfield design that doesn't seem to care that much about a barrel damping point is the P14. Pressure can vary from 1 to 5.5 of uplift and it really does not matter much. Packing a P14 will help though, in my experience, though such was never allowed, from 1934 to 1968.
    you took the time to learn what the old blokes knew about these rifles. Now go back a little further and do the No1 Mk3.

  17. #16
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    Ive done them too, though I found those to be much more of a hand fit job and individual. Especially once you test them for rapid fire.

    When I started Australian Heavy barrels could be purchased as NOS in the plastic wrapper. I think shipped to the USA it was 155 for 2. Still have a few in the shop.

    Back around 2000 I could go to Sarco in NJ, and pick out 4 like New Fazakerley No4 barrels, for 25 a piece. Forends, new were 35 a piece.

    Every part needed was available for not very much from Springfield sporters

    With the net opening up the 5C sights were under 50 bucks. Used to Travel to NZ and Australia, come back with my suitcase full of target sights, manuals and old score books.


    You could even get P14 barrels, in decent shape for not very much (~40) all off of sporters from old gunsmith shutting down.

    Most important: You could still find known good MKVII SAA that was not Click bang Still have some CP-44, was my gold standard for test validation.

    Of course guns sold for under 100 then. Sporters which is what I used (I would not modify a correct rifle) even less.

    Ultimately what I learned was all about following old school procedures, be it the 1931 UK manual, Sweets books (1 through 5), the Canadian rework instructions, etc. Nothing new, just learned the accumulated wisdom of Pre 1968 shooters.

    Times move on. So did I when I discovered Swiss K31 rifles in 2013. The Enfield was a very engaging but of kit to regulate, endlessly interesting, but a real kluge when it came to consistent accuracy. The K31 was what a well engineering Target rifle should be.

    That and old first Generation 7.62 Commonwealth Target rifles. Have a fond spot for the Sportco 44.

  18. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fritz View Post
    Ive done them too, though I found those to be much more of a hand fit job and individual. Especially once you test them for rapid fire.

    When I started Australian Heavy barrels could be purchased as NOS in the plastic wrapper. I think shipped to the USA it was 155 for 2. Still have a few in the shop.

    Back around 2000 I could go to Sarco in NJ, and pick out 4 like New Fazakerley No4 barrels, for 25 a piece. Forends, new were 35 a piece.

    Every part needed was available for not very much from Springfield sporters

    With the net opening up the 5C sights were under 50 bucks. Used to Travel to NZ and Australia, come back with my suitcase full of target sights, manuals and old score books.


    You could even get P14 barrels, in decent shape for not very much (~40) all off of sporters from old gunsmith shutting down.

    Most important: You could still find known good MKVII SAA that was not Click bang Still have some CP-44, was my gold standard for test validation.

    Of course guns sold for under 100 then. Sporters which is what I used (I would not modify a correct rifle) even less.

    Ultimately what I learned was all about following old school procedures, be it the 1931 UK manual, Sweets books (1 through 5), the Canadian rework instructions, etc. Nothing new, just learned the accumulated wisdom of Pre 1968 shooters.

    Times move on. So did I when I discovered Swiss K31 rifles in 2013. The Enfield was a very engaging but of kit to regulate, endlessly interesting, but a real kluge when it came to consistent accuracy. The K31 was what a well engineering Target rifle should be.

    That and old first Generation 7.62 Commonwealth Target rifles. Have a fond spot for the Sportco 44.
    The Omark/Sportco is still hanging in. Just have to tell some young fellas what its limits are like the L42s and clones limits.

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