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Tuning a rebuilt SMLE #1 Mk 3

4777 Views 19 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  gunho1954
I recently had a SMLE #1 Mk3 rebuilt. The rifle is a bit of a blitzer with parts ranging from 1915 on up to the 20's. The barrel is from the 50s and was still in the grease when I bought it. I am currently looking for any info on armorers State-side that know this rifle. My gunsmith did an excellent job getting the rifle put back together, but I am questioning the head space on it. He doesn't work on 303s and probably only did what he did since I am a friend of his son.

When I finally got it to the range, the first shot was with Remington factory loads and I had total case separation. After clearing the broken shell I returned to the range with handloads I worked up (174gr Woodleigh on top of IMR 4064 @ 4 different weights & 215 gr Woodleigh on top of 35 grs of IMR 4064). The rifle fired without breaking any shells, but all but one had high primers and a few pierced primers. Granted these were all unfired Winchester brass.

I just want to find somebody that knows these guns well enough to give it a once over before I sink the money into the headspace gauges & firing pin gauge to check it myself.

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It depends

I have been reloading for various .303 British Enfields for a lot of years. Many of them were long in the tooth regarding the chamber and badly stretched cases. I partially resized the cases exactly as Harry as described. True, the headspace condition still existed, but the cases fit the chamber and the effects of the problem are reduced.

The best .303s for case life I have encountered were the P-14 Enfields that have forward locking lugs and are more gentle on the cases. Take care...
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