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hello there. i am new to hunting and and rifles and i have a simple question to ask. I can get a .303 britsh enfield for really cheap and i was wondering if this would be a could first step into the sport. I will be mostly hunting moose, elk and deer. How is this rifle for ease maintanence, ease of buying and mounting scope mounts, ammuniton and accessories for and anything else i should be aware of. Or if there is a different rifle you would recommend i purchase instead? Thank you, It is much appreciated
 

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Welcome to the Forum

My first rifle was a .303 British Enfield from WWI. Ammo is readily available and the .303 has taken a lot of game over the years. Mounting a scope is not too difficult. I prefer "no drill" S & K Insta-Mounts on military rifles and they have a website at www.scopemounts.com. Cleaning and maintaining an Enfield is just like taking care of any other rifle. Hope this helps. All the best...
Gil
 

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My first deer rifle was a 7.7 Jap, a WWII combat rifle, and although it has somewhat more power than a 303 British, there's no reason you couldn't use that classic round for hunting the game you mentioned. Be sure to purchase soft-pointed hunting ammunition for it and do a good bit of practice because the effectiveness of any cartridge has more to do with shot placement than bullet weight or velocity.

With all of that being said, if you can get a 30-'06, 308 Winchester, or another more powerful cartridge, their increased energy and modern design may well improve your odds, especially at longer ranges.
 

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How much is Cheap? I ask because for under $300 you can buy a Marlin XL-7 in 30'06. It will be lighter, more accurate, is made for scope mounting, and has a great trigger.

The enfield is a great military rifle and the cartridge is capable of killing almost anything you'd want to chase, but it will be a compromise in the field. Just be aware that those compromises will and can be frustating at times.
 

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Being that you are making your first purchase for a deer-sized hunting rifle I would suggest you pass on the .303. It is a fine weapon and it will cleanly kill all the game you mention, but IMO there are better options out there for a fair price. The suggestion on the Marlin is an excellent choice. You can also look at the new Savage rifles. Savage has package rifles that already have a scope and are field ready except for the final sighting in. I would stick with "normal" american cartridges as you can find ammo most anywhere for them if you plan on using factory ammo. The suggestion of either .308 or .30-06 is also a good suggestion. I hunted for many years with an '06 and took a lot of game.

Also, dont discount the power of the old venerable 30/30. You can generally find a good used 30/30 lever action with a scope for about $300 or less. I dare say there have been more deer killed with the old 30/30 than any other cartridge, but because it has been around so long, which another testimate to its abilities. You would be in the same general distance and killing power with a 30/30 and a .303 Brit. If you plan on hunting open sights then either a Marlin or Winchester will work. If you plan on using a telescopic scope, then my choice would be a Marlin 336. Ammo is cheap and plentiful and you have every manufacturer making ammo for it.

The .303 is great for nastalgia and is a fine rifle, but one that IMO is a bit lacking when compared to more run-of-the-mill rifles and cartridges.
 

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Are you in Canada? If so, the .303 may be a good choice for you just based on parts, logistics, and ammo availability.

Sorry, I don't have any experience with it, but our other Canadian shooters may be able to help. Good luck.
 

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My first big game rifle was also a WWI .303 British Lee Enfield. Anything I shot with it died on the spot. Even today, believe it or not, I keep thinking every once and a while that I should rebarrel that gun and use it again.

Ammo is dirt cheap for the .303 British (at least it is here in central Alberta). I do highly reccomend the gun, but as others have said, it depends on how cheap cheap actually is. Mine was free from an old lady who had lost her brother in the war, and when she found the gun again she simply wanted it gone.

The only thing I would suggest is to see if you can fire a few rounds with it first. Many of these guns are EXTREMELY worn out. They can shoot forever without any appreciable bore fouling, and they pack a fair amount of energy. Also, if you're new to shooting a higher power rifle, I would highly reccomend you get a slip on recoil pad for it. If you're not prepared for the kick, those steel buttplates can give you a bit of shock at first.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
well i can get a newer .303 brit in immaculate shape (i shouldnt say newer... it has a brand new black stock on it and there is not a mark anywhere on the rifle) for free. I did not know until this morning that it would be for free. What mounting options should i look at? rail mount or rings? which is easier? I Live in the Peace area of BC
 

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My first centrefire was a no 1 mk III SMLE. That rifle killed a lot of game for me before I graduated to more expensive sporting rigs.

The Lee Enfield action is a rear locker and not the strongest around by any means. Stick to factory velocities and pressures if you are going to reload for one. It is a good hunting cartridge, somewhere between a .30/30 and a .308 Winchester in terms of performance when loaded in the SMLE. In a P14 action it can be loaded hotter.

You will find the rifle easy to maintain, in terms of reliability the Lee Enfield is one of the toughest old battle rifles made. They can be difficult to set up with a good scope mount, many of the ones out here had home made mounts or side mounts.
 

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i have 2 303's-a nos 1 mk111 and a nos 4 mk11.the reciever on the smelly does not lend its self to scope mounts easily.the guns you buy vary in quality and best accuracy comes at longer range due to the action springing and it compensating for load difference.-i personly,would go for a peep sight(no4) or just use the smelly as is.--i only have mine because they were shot on a range and i love them.-you would do a great deal better with a 30/06 in a marlin or savage.the 303 can give you head space probs due to bolt heads(a,b,orC) being swapped over the many years,corrosive ammo probs,beddind problems due to cracked fore-end wood.brass stretching,and a need most times to semi float the fore end full wood to get reasonable accuraccy and many other quirks.--the nos4 is miles ahead of nos 1mk3 and shoots good out the box.-HONESTLY,go for the marlin or similar,as the small price diff is soon forgotten when problems start.you need to start off on a good footing into shooting and huntimg.-best of luck with your choice and best wishes-most of the people on the forum will be only to happy to help you with whatever info you need.-happy new year
 

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, I would highly reccomend you get a slip on recoil pad for it. If you're not prepared for the kick, those steel buttplates can give you a bit of shock at first.

That little guy ? Ahhhh, I wouldn't worry about that little guy :D

 

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That little guy ? Ahhhh, I wouldn't worry about that little guy :D
Haha...neither would I, but I also know what type of experiences I had before that. I have no idea how much he has. Early on in my life I was lucky enough to have a father that was a gun collector. I put an awful lot of rounds of anything from a .22 Short, to .25-20's, and even .30-03's before I ever got my own .303.

Edition, I know a lot of guys here will argue with me, and I know many of them might have more experience than me, but I'll tell you...despite my gun shooting terribly (I mean a group several feet across at 100 yards), it still got me alot of critters...from fox to deer, and if I could go back in time, knowing how things turned out for me...I would gladly do it all again. As I mentioned before, I STILL love that rifle. The reality is that your average hunter (keep in mind that guys that go on these kinds of shooting forums are often above average) is still the limiting factor in killing a deer under an "ordinary" hunting situation. What I mean by ordinary is a shot at, say, 70 yards, often freehand. If your gun shoots a one foot group at 100 yards, at 75 yards you are looking at only an 8" group. I know it sounds crazy to guys with 1/4" groupers, but an 8" group from the .303 in 180 grain bullets will still kill your deer if you do your job in aligning the sights with where they ought to be.

Best of luck to you, whatever your choice.
 

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marsms, I was just adding some humor to the thread. I didnt start off on big powder hungry beasts either. I started with a Daisy Powerline 880 at age 7, then an FIE .410 at 9, a Marlin 60 at 12, and from there I started banging away on 12 gauges and stuff my cousins had. I was hooked ! Recoil is my friend, but not everyone's for sure !
 

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marsms, I was just adding some humor to the thread. I didnt start off on big powder hungry beasts either. I started with a Daisy Powerline 880 at age 7, then an FIE .410 at 9, a Marlin 60 at 12, and from there I started banging away on 12 gauges and stuff my cousins had. I was hooked ! Recoil is my friend, but not everyone's for sure !
Recoil is your friend? I hate to say it, but you may just be a better man than I!

Edition- I don't know 100% for sure, but I would think not. There have been so many different Enfield configurations, and so many of those guns have been altered in some way. But, I could be wrong...?
 

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My first two guns were a 94 win 25-35 and a model 12 rem I was 10 years old and bought them at an auction in the neigbors shed in his backyard. I paid 15$ for both had to run home and get Dad to give me the money, paid for that a long time.......tray
 
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