Tuesday, June 30, 2015

When in doubt, apply Rule .303

Yesterday was a fantastic range day for several reasons.

First of all, my Uzi again choked and jammed, right out of the gate. But this is good, because it did it with known quality factory ammunition instead of my reloads, so the problem is definitely the gun and not my reloads. Yay! Easier to fix a gun than disassemble hundreds of rounds of otherwise great ammunition.

Next, I'm really happy because B., a new shooter that I've been taking out to the range since he bought a Smith and Wesson M&P Shield and a CMP Garand, is now shooting them well enough that I feel confident in letting him fire without close supervision. He's finally relaxed, usually hits the target or at least comes really close, and he handles the guns safely, to include malfunction drills when things don't go right. Watching his progress is rewarding, to say the least.

Next, I took another old rack-hanger out to the range, only to discover that it shoots a lot better than I thought it did. This rifle is a British Enfield, #4 Mark 1, in caliber .303.
This old warhorse was made at the Royal Ordnance Factory in Maltby in 1941, per it's markings. It was one of the first of the early imports back in the late 1980's and I bought it for $76 from Southern Ohio Gun.
This one has the more complex long-range elevation-adjustable rear sight, as shown below.
But it was never particularly accurate in my hands, throwing most of it's rounds well off to the left and patterning like a shotgun at a hundred yards. Other rifles came along that I shot better, and this one was relegated to the display rack, where it quietly resided over the years while its peers and contemporaries enjoyed more use on the range. But I learned a couple of years ago that many wartime Enfields had oversized bores due to rushed war production, and I started loading Hornady's excellent .312 diameter bullets, getting great results in other Enfields and my Arisaka. But this one still threw to the left, so it got ignored some more. Finally though, I decided to fix it or sell it, and I sat down with a hammer and a punch and I drifted the front sight post left.

OK, make that a hammer, a punch and a torch, because that sucker was tight!

Yesterday was it's first trip out, and I started with it on the 25-yard line, just to see where it would hit. I fired five shots at a "dirty bird" type target, and was a little pissed to only see two holes on the target, both predictable a bit low and left. Did it really just throw the other three clean off the target at 25 yards from a rested firing position? Turned out that it did not--they were right in the center bull, touching.

Well ok then...I moved it over to 100, while B. went to work with his Garand on the adjacent target. And it didn't take long before I got elevation practically perfect with that great rear sight. A few more light whacks on the front blade fine-tuned the windage, and soon the rifle was scoring consistent X-ring hits at 100 yards. Why was this rifle "Queen of the rack" for all those years?

I moved out to two hundred yards, and on a whim, because he was shooting well at a hundred, I moved B. back to two hundred as well, telling him to come up on his elevation three clicks and really concentrate on his sight picture and trigger squeeze. He did pretty well for his first try, and the old Enfield was putting them right where they needed to go two, until the case rim tore off of round #9, leaving the case body in the chamber--another old Enfield quirk, again thanks to generous chamber tolerances--and effectively shutting the rifle down for the day for lack of a broken cartridge extractor. But the rifle made its point: it can shoot if I do my job. And this one will definitely NOT be getting sold any time soon. Instead, it's going to be making a lot more range trips with me in the future...along with my broken cartridge extractor.

Oh--and that Rule .303? Harry "Breaker" Morant could tell you more about that, had he not rather ironically had it applied to himself in the end.

And yeah, yeah...they used Lee-Metford rifles back then, not Enfields But It's just too cool a reference to leave out of a post about .303 rifles.


  1. Very cool. I have never shot anything like that.

  2. They used Long Lees / Lee-Metfords back in the Boer Wars rather than the #1 Mk3 which was adopted in 1907, but that is a cool reference without a doubt.

    Good to hear its working nice and accurately.

    1. Dammit. You're right. Stoopid movie.

  3. Makes me drool a little. I have a 1950 Long Branch No4 MK1 I have yet to shoot...Last production year for the Canadians to boot. If it shoots near as well as my de mummified No4 Mk2, I will be well pleased...

  4. It's nice when you get an old warhorse working right again! :-)

  5. From 'Scapegoats of the Empire", by George Witte:

    "Was your court at the trial of Visser constituted like this?" asked the President [of the Court Martial], "and did you observe paragraph ---- of ---- section of the King's Regulations?"

    "Was it like this!" fiercely answered [Lieutenant Harry "The Breaker"] Morant.
    "No; it was not quite so handsome. As to rules and sections, we had no Red Book, and knew nothing about them. We were out fighting the Boers, not sitting comfortably behind barb-wire entanglements; we got them and shot them under Rule 303."