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Old 04-29-2012, 13:53   #1
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1944 Lee Enfield No4 MK1 Long Branch

conclusion to this thread here:
'44 LE No4Mk1* into a PScout Rifle!


Hey guys I'm looking for a little bit of advice on purchasing my first Lee-Enfield.

I found a 1944 No4 MK1 "Long Branch" on my local "backpage.com" for $225.
I have no problem that it's Canadian. It's been sporterized, so I'm not sure where that puts it in value in this day and age, as compared to others that haven't been sporterized. I'm not looking for a perfect specimen to hang on a wall or flip for more cash. I'm looking for a good shooter with some history.

Would this specific model be one to stay away from (ie, like National Ordnance m1903's)??

Is there anything I need to check for, besides pulling the bolt and inspecting the bore? Are there parts that are known to wear out and break off? I've heard of headspacing issues, but lack a gauge. Is there another visual way to check this?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I may look at it this afternoon. Thanks for your time.
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1944 Lee Enfield No4 MK1 Long Branch-enfield1.jpg   1944 Lee Enfield No4 MK1 Long Branch-enfield2.jpg   1944 Lee Enfield No4 MK1 Long Branch-enfield3.jpg  
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Old 04-29-2012, 15:33   #2
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For $225, I'd buy it if the bore and action are good. The Long Branch is GTG.

Most of the SMLEs and No4s had "generous" chambers, but .303 Brit headspaces on the rim, so don't compare a fired cartridge to an unfired one and panic. Headspace gauges are available from multiple online vendors, but few people shooting SMLEs seem to have ever check their headspace. Bolt heads come in 4 sizes to correct headspace issues; you don't have to pull the barrel or anything drastic like that.

Personally, I'd have to replace the forestock and handguards to return it to original configuration, so I'd haggle a bit on price. All 3 pieces plus the metal can be had for less than $100. If you can't find a Mk1 forestock, the Mk2 can be modified to fit pretty easily.

Parts List (*)
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Old 04-29-2012, 19:47   #3
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If you are looking for a good shooter, then hold out, shell out another $50 tops and get yourself an Enfield Ishapore, one of those outstanding 2A1's chambered in .308 in India in the 1960's. These are quite historic in their way and are quite possibly the best Enfields ever built. Besides, if you go shopping for .303 British, you'll quickly find that 7.62x51 NATO can be had FAR more inexpensively. I was lucky enough to stumble on a magnificent specimen of this rifle for $300 a few months ago. I'm so fond of it that I grabbed another recently for $250. Not quite as spiffy, but I'm glad to have it. Great shooters.
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Old 04-29-2012, 20:56   #4
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Hey Capt., the Long Branch is a nice rifle and the .303 is a classic and potent cartridge. That rifle looks complete other then the stock. Does not look like the barrel was cut. Check for matching bolt serial #. I think price is a bit high but not bad. If the bore is good and I was in the market $225 is not unreasonable.
As far as head space goes, you have to use a British spec gauge as a SAMMI guage will be short. Head space is pretty easy to adjust with a bolt head change.Most every Long Branch that I have shot has been pretty accurate.
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Old 04-29-2012, 21:58   #5
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Thank you very much for the information, guys, and the link, PigBat.

I tried to hold out as long as possible to get as much information as I could, but we had set a meeting time for 3:30. When you get a reply that the rifle is still for sale, you kinda have to move quick

I ran by Cabela's for a Go/No-Go gauge and could only find a cartridge headspace gauge, which I didn't buy.
I was told the rifle belonged to the seller's grandfather, and the last time the rifle was fired was last Thursday (if I can believe that) so I'm expecting it to be ok. I'll hafta hit Midway for the gauge cause I don't want to blow up my face or anything....
The bolt matches the receiver, but I cannot find a number on the magazine or the barrel. The mag only has a "U.C.F." stamped into the follower, and the barrel has random numbers and symbols, with a "44" included. There is absolutely no rust, with very light pitting in small patches on the receiver (sweaty fingerprints?).

I noticed that the ladder sight is stamped "MKIII". It's also not held in place by a vertical stake, but a roll pin, so that's definitely not original.

Anyways. I took it home for $200.

.303 Brit ammo was non-existant at my local Cabela's, and the only box of bullets that they had were .310" 123gr. I need to figure out if I need .310"s or .312"s.

Thanks again for your info guys!

edit** thanks for the info Jeff F, I hadn't caught your post yet. I will indeed be on the hunt for a British spec gauge...makes so much sense.
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1944 Lee Enfield No4 MK1 Long Branch-enfield1.jpg  
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Old 04-30-2012, 06:13   #6
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I'll toss you some links in the next day or two for some Enfield sites and a couple on reloading the .303. I shoot and hunt with Enfields quite a bit and even cast lead bullets for mine. Great for plinking cheap. You will enjoy that rifle I believe.

One thing, the weakest point on a No1 or No4 Enfield is the magazine and its feed lips. Don't take a loaded magazine and slap it home like you do with most magazine fed rifles. Doing so will bend the feed lips and cause you feed problems and frustration. Load it like it was meant to be loaded, from the top with single rounds or with 5 round chargers(the British term for stripper clips).
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Old 04-30-2012, 06:58   #7
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Heres a few links to some sites i have learnd a lot from.
Reloading the 303 British: Chambers and Headspace
Surplusrifle Forum • View forum - Lee Enfields
Enfield-Rifles.com
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Old 04-30-2012, 13:32   #8
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Thank you very much for the links Jeff F.
The more I research this particular cartridge, the more afraid I get that I made too hasty of a decision. I have no problem finding the correct components and putting them together, but I'm hearing that the best fitting/most accurate .303 bullets are those cast by yourself, due to differences in bore size. I am also looking for a Headspace Field Gauge. Wonderful....
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Old 04-30-2012, 14:15   #9
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Don't stress on a head space gauge to much, especially if your rifle has a matching bolt. I have a few Enfields and I have shot a bunch of others and never so far have had a head space issue. Good Factory ammo is Wolf Gold and Privy. S&B is OK but the brass needs annealing or it does not last. After you start shooting it a bit I think it will grow on you. I only cast bullets because I shoot at least a couple thousand rounds a year out of a few different Enfields. I think the No1 and No4 Enfields are the finest bolt action battle rifles ever made bar none.
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Old 04-30-2012, 14:22   #10
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Here is the head space gauge I use. I bought the three guage set but have never used the go gauge.
Okie Headspace Gauges
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Old 04-30-2012, 14:42   #11
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Originally Posted by Jeff F View Post
Don't stress on a head space gauge to much, especially if your rifle has a matching bolt. I have a few Enfields and I have shot a bunch of others and never so far have had a head space issue. Good Factory ammo is Wolf Gold and Privy. S&B is OK but the brass needs annealing or it does not last. After you start shooting it a bit I think it will grow on you. I only cast bullets because I shoot at least a couple thousand rounds a year out of a few different Enfields. I think the No1 and No4 Enfields are the finest bolt action battle rifles ever made bar none.
This is all really good news to hear. I had done a little researching on the 'Big 4' military bolt-actions: Mausers, Mosin-Nagants, Springfield m1903s, and the Lee-Enfields. I decided on the smoothest action with the highest capacity.

The bolt head is marked "2". Does this typically mean that someone wore out the "1"?

I can't wait to shoot it. Accuracy seems to be quite dependent upon bullet/bore size. I'm really hoping it's accurate, or at least accurizable, because I won't want to keep it if it's not

Thanks again.
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Old 04-30-2012, 17:34   #12
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Bolt heads were marked 0-3 and all were used in initial setting of head space. Also their lengths overlapped in a big way. I doubt your bolt head was ever worn out and is probably original to your rifle. I would not be afraid to shoot that rifle without checking head space, I have shot quite a few without checking them as long as they looked good to go.

Now when you do shoot it and look at your fired brass you will probably see that the shoulder get blown forward and fire formed to your chamber, its perfectly normal and has nothing to do with head space. Enfields are known for having a generous chamber so they would function with dirty ammo in battlefield conditions.

What this means to us Enfield shooters that reload is that we keep our brass separated for each rifle and we only neck size so we don't overwork our brass. I trim my brass to the trim to length and when it starts getting a tad hard to chamber I will set my sizing die to just bump the shoulder back just a touch. I have reloaded some of my brass 9+ times.

When I first started loading .303 and did not know the tricks of reloading for the Enfield my brass was only lasting 2 or 3 reloads before I got a case head separation. I have never had a case head separation with factory new ammunition, also its not that big of a deal when it does happen. the Enfield is well vented, the first time I had one I didn't even know it happened until I tried to chamber another round and it jambed. Always wear eye protection.
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Old 04-30-2012, 17:58   #13
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Hey Capt. if you message me with a good E Mail address I have a bunch of PDF's of British Enfield manuals that I would be more then happy to attach and send to you.
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Old 04-30-2012, 19:40   #14
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Originally Posted by Jeff F View Post
Hey Capt. if you message me with a good E Mail address I have a bunch of PDF's of British Enfield manuals that I would be more then happy to attach and send to you.
Oh wow Jeff, that's a ton of information you just sent me. That some valuable stuff. Thank you very much. It'll take me some time to get through it all, but learning about these things is a third of the fun.

.....like a kid in a candy store!
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Old 04-30-2012, 20:10   #15
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Enjoy, I fell in love with the Enfield rifles about 12 years ago. I keep buying them. Every collection should have at least one. If you ever want to put that back into its stock military configuration I think all you would need is a stock set and a bit of hardware. I have a couple places for parts if your ever interested.

I have shot a couple of mine out to 1000 yards with the open sights and it was pretty impressive. My Savage No4 Mk1/3 2 groove in a sport stock kind of like yours is my go to mule deer and elk rifle. My best No4 is a No4 Mk2 made in 55. I got it just out of the mummy wrap, never fired except for at the factory. Its one of the most accurate rifles I have ever shot.
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Old 05-20-2012, 16:20   #16
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First shoot!

Took the Enfield to Ben Avery today for it's first shoot.
I am impressed. Even with the irons it didn't group too bad. I really need to get this scoped though. I'm not a fan of the giant aperture. It's not small enough for me. Somehow, the thin front blade has visibly slid a tiny bit to the left, making groups pattern to the right. The height looks good for a rear 200m sight. It's a little high at 100yrds. I was able to tap the front blade back to the right.
The handloads I had made were using 123gr .310" 7.62 NATO bullets meant for the Mosin/Nagant. I have a box of .311 Speers on the way from MidwayUSA. Still need to bore slug...

The safety screw loosened up after a while, allowing the safety to swing backwards after every shot, jamming up the action. Easily fixed with thumbnail.

It's been a long while since I've enjoyed the pain of a bruised shoulder from a good time of shootin'

In the pic, the (5) red and (5) blue shots under tape were at 50yards.
The remaining (10) green shots were at 100yards, so the group opened up a little bit. There was a flier off paper...
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Old 05-21-2012, 06:15   #17
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Thats not bad shooting for the first time out! I have found the .303 to be a pretty accurate cartridge with good power. With the right bullets it will take any animal in North America. Hell its killed every animal in the world at one time or another including all the big ones in Africa.
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Old 05-21-2012, 08:47   #18
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Thanks Jeff. I'm of the understanding that although not as popular as the 30-06 in North America, it's been quite popular throughout the rest of the world. After hearing of the sheer numbers made and how the Brits used them, it almost makes me wonder if the Lee Enfield could be considered the AK of its day?
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Old 05-21-2012, 16:00   #19
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Capt. I would not stress on slugging the bore unless your planing on casting bullets for it. I do cast for a couple of mine and sludged the bores so I could get an idea of which bullet sizing dies to buy. If your rifling looks good and sharp your pretty limited in selection of jacketed .311/.312 bullets.

For a time I was loading 168 grain .308 paper patched bullets with very good results. Barnes, Hornady(303 Caliber/7.7 Japanese Bullets 174 Gr FMJ-BT one of my favorites along with their 303 Caliber/7.7 Japanese Bullets 174 Gr RN for hunting), Sierra and Speer all have quality bullets. And don't overlook Remington's bullets, I have had pretty good luck with those also.
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Old 07-26-2012, 03:52   #20
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I had no idea this thread would get so many views. It doesn't really lead anywhere. For those that have stumbled upon it through web searches, you can find the conclusion here:

'44 LE No4Mk1* into a PScout Rifle!
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Old 07-26-2012, 06:35   #21
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I think many are following it because the Lee Enfield is numerous and easy handling. I have two and have never shot either one. But you have me thinking of getting some ammo and having some fun with them. The funny thing is my No 4 was loaded when I purchased it. I put it in the trunk of my car and brought it into the house. I saw that it was cocked so opened the bolt viola a chambered round popped out. I looked at the gun weeks earlier and of course checked out the bore. So I didn't think to look again when I picked the thing up. Just grabed the rife and into the trunk it went.
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