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Tuning a rebuilt SMLE #1 Mk 3

4775 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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Thanks guys. If I remember right the #4 Mk 1 was the design with multiple bolt heads. As far as my rifle is concerned, I am more concerned about the chamber being long, if that is possible. I'll try the pop can idea. That should check for a long chamber.

Once I get this figured out, I will probably run into problems with the front sight. If I need a different sight height, where could I get it? Numerich only lists one, but I think they made 5 or 6 different heights during the war.

Thanks for the input. I'll keep it posted here.
I think the gunsmith did very little after I had to start pestering him when he still had my gun 6 months later. I don't intend to take anything back to him after this.

There is a local shop I have heard about from some folks. It sounds like the smith is a bit of an old school armorer, so I might swing by there to see what he can do.

If he has to ream the chamber, I might switch it up to the .303 Epps (aka British Improved) if I can get the reamer from Pacific Tool and Gauge.
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