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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How good is the quality of the 303 British Enfields that used to
be pretty plentiful on the market. I haven't seen any in 7 or 8
years. What about the .303 cartridge itself? Is it capable of
30-06 performance?

Kindly,
Timberwolf
 

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It depends

British Enfields from WWI and WWII are still available around here at reasonable prices. The quality varies and it depends on the rifle and its condition. These are used rifles and getting long in the tooth.

The .303 British cartridge is loaded to lower pressures than the .30-06 because of the rifles chambered for it. It does not match the .30-06 performance. A careful review of ballistic charts will point out the differences in these rounds. Hope this helps. All the best...
Gil
 

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Quality can be a surprise with them,, the last imported that i saw coming through the shop I worked at where the No-4's out of Canada, and the No-3's out of the Aussie rework centers. Both very nice and tight clean bores,nice wood.

Brit's used a few No-4's to convert to their 308 sniper guns, seem to hold up well and shoot very nice. Might see a few India No-3's in 308, do not know how they have done hadn't played with any.

303 in the old loading,215 grain bullet has taken every thing just about on 4 legs, while used by the Brits in their Colonial days, still a popular round in Africa for paper punchers and hunters on weekly breaks, still in use in Canada for some.

303 was one of the big 3 rounds for WW-2, 8mm,06 and then 303 it held its own quite well.

If you can find a decent one, with good headspace and bore, its still IMO a good woods and 200 meter rifle if you do your part of the equation
 

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Great hunting rifles but it won't do what a 30-06 will. I've had one for years that my dad gave me and it's plenty hunting accurate using the original peep sights and Winchester 180 grain ammo. It is a perfectly capable hunting weapon in the right hands to take many species of game.
 

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A 303 with a good barrel is very accurate. 180 gr 303B is at 2450 while the average 30-06 180 goes about 2700 or so. Pretty close but the 06 would be better at long range. I dont think any deer would know the difference.
 

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The quality, as in fit and finish, will vary widely.
Certainly many of the rifles made during wartime periods in England are roughly finished on the outside, and many have a painted finish. Their accuracy, depending on the state of the barrel, is good enough for deer hunting. An action that has been used will be quite easy to operate and fast handling.
 

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Here in Canada the mark 4's are commanding about $350 with a decent barrel . Some sporterized go for less. A lot of barrels for the 303 have washed out barrels from the hard point ammo used during or offorded cheap after the war .
All of the P14 's I seen have poor barrels and likewise the p17 in odd six.
There are still many Mark 1 ,3,4 and 5's in use for deer bear and moose in the eastern bush and they still do a fine job of harvesting game .
Check out tradeexcanada Web site if your looking.
 

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Like all military rifles quality will vary a bit among individual rifles but in general it is pretty good. In the rear locking Lee Enfield action the .303 British with 150gn bullet sits between the .30/30 Winchester and .308 Win in terms of performance. That gives it heaps of grunt for medium game but selecting a quality projectile in .311 is a bit harder. Woodleigh now makes .303 hunting projectiles, and the Sierras are alright too.

In the Mauser inspired P14 the .303 can be loaded up a bit to basically equal the .308. A .30/06 it isn't.
 

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nimrod375

Just curious where you stated,..."In the rear locking P14 action the .303 British with 150gn bullet sits between the .30/30 Winchester and .308 Win in terms of performance"...

All of my P14 rifles have front locking lugs, are stronger than the SMLE rifles and give longer case life. The SMLE rifles have rear locking lugs. All the best...
Gil
 

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Strangely, my P-17 has front locking lugs also, Gil!
 

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Apologies guys, that was a typo. Should have written in the rear locking Lee Enfield action - my follow up at the bottom of the post referred to the P14.
 

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I was given an old No.4 MK1* by a friend. Bubba had done some serious damage to it back in the late 50s or early 60s! Cleaned it up, recrowned the barrel and put a higher front sight on it. Even with my old eyes it will group an inch or less at 100 yds! The accuracy of this rifle has supprised me more than any other I have ever owned.
 

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I should ask you folks this...nobody else has been able to answer my question.

The very first big game rifle I ever got was a .303 British. It was given to my by my older brother's (now) father in law, Don. He found it behind a hot water tank when he was replacing it, and the old lady had forgotten about it. Turns out it was her late husband's rifle from the war, and he brought it back with him. He passed away soon after he got back home, and she had been trying to forget about that gun ever since. She was so shocked when it surfaced again, she told Don to get it out of her sight...so he gladly took it.

Now, here's the thing about it. It appears to have a sporterized stock. It is short in length. The only thing is, however, it still has a military-style metal buttplate (grey), with a hatch for storing the rods. It retains the metal band behind the reciever, and 1300 yard irons sights with the protector around the front sight. Now, this COULD be written off as a civilian version, except for two things. First of all, the old lady had insisted that her husband brought it back from overseas. The thing that nobody has been able to explain to me, however (including several "self-appointed" experts on the subject...certainly long time collectors of them, if nothing else) is point number two.

The reciever is stamped No. 4 MK III*. Everybody who has examined it has been amazed by this. Various stamps on the gun seem to suggest that it was a Canadian gun, but then it also has some markings suggesting it may (apparently?) have seen South Africa? I'm no whiz on these stamps though, so that's another fellow's opinion. Actually, I think most of the marking are worn off. At least, there are several that can only be seen (many not even recognized, unfortunately) but holding the gun up at various angles to a light.

Sorry for trying to steal your thunder, Timberwolf...I've just always been curious about this? Maybe somebody might have an inkling to what's going on?
 

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A picture would help to identify whether or not it is a No. 4.
As for bringing it back from the war, unlikely that it was his issued rifle. That doesn't mean he didn't pick it up in other ways, including from a company that did some rudimentary 'sporterizing.'
Also, pictures of any markings would be helpful (try using chalk to fill them in for visibilty).
 

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Yeah, you'd have to ask for a picture, wouldn't you?! I actually don't have a camera, though I did see a picture of one just recently that was NEARLY identical, with the exception of a different style safety (same movement and length, apparently...just that the tip is shaped differently), and the "button head" on the bolt (which on mine is not a button, but rather rectangular). I will tell you though, that as far as the reciever and everything, it DOES look like a No. 4. The left side of the reciever is higher than the right, and flat. There is no recess in the reciever for the safety catch.

I've got no problem with the sporterizing thing...I mean really, anybody can cut down a stock. I'm just curious as to the No. 4 MK III* stamp? Also, with the chalk thing...we've tried that before. unfortunately, the steel is worn so smooth that the stamps aren't really stamped at all...they're just very slight depressions. The chalk sticks in there, but just ends up leaving a "pothole" rather than adhering to the outlines.

Edit: Just found some more pictures of one that looks even similar to mine. The ONLY difference I can see on this one (besides stamping) is the safety and the stock. The safety on mine actually has a rounded end with a hole through the middle.

http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=154382211
 

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I thought the Lee Enfields with rectangular strikers were manufactured by Lithgow here in Australia. Google Ian Skennerton, he has written the definitive book on the Lee Enfield.
 

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Hehe...what are the chances that I've got a sporterized Canadian gun that saw service in South Africa, bolt replacement in Australia, magazine from France, sights replaced and receiver restamped in Great Britain... :p
 

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I think that the Brits had a winner in this design and the Commonwealth did well with them. The guide I use in Northern Quebec carries a Mark III. Plus when I bought one I got it at Canadian Tire way back when.

Jerry
 

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To me it's a great cartridge, between the 308 and 30-30 and the rifle itself (the Lee Enfield not the P14) is a great hunting rifle. I've never had the kind of accuracy some lucky guys get (1-2" @ 100yds) but it is more than enough for hunting. I've found the quick shouldering, aiming and follow up shots it allows make these rifle very practical. I use to use a 8x10" steel plate @ 50 yds and could hit minimum 9 in 10 shots offhand in just over 20 secs. I wasn't looking for top accuracy just rapid hits.
 
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