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Revisiting the 1917 Enfield

21 Dec 2018
@ 06:15 am (GMT)

Joshua Mayfield

I've had my grandfather's 1917 Enfield now for close to 20 years. I carried it on a number of hunts and had some success with it here and there but I never asked it to do much more than what I'd grown up doing with shotgun slugs. The gun came to me in good shape and I've been able to keep it that way. I shot it some with open sights, some with a rigged up scope. I never drilled it. I never got a level of accuracy that I was happy with, but I have realized that my technique never really allowed for a clear determination of what the gun was doing or not doing. I shot factory 150 gr. Remington Core Lokt loads through it and then shot my first batch or two of reloads through it pushing 150 gr. Swift Scirocco bullets. Seven or eight years ago I decided I wanted to stop carrying the Enfield due to the risk of beating it up and a desire for better accuracy. I was also encountering some frustration as I tried to fine tune things that was born more of my own ignorance than anything being wrong with the gun. It has been six or seven years since I have fired the rifle. In the meantime, I bought a modern bolt action rifle, also in .30-06, got serious about loading my own ammunition, and discovered the work of Mr. Foster.

So now after several years I find myself interested in tinkering with the old Enfield again. I did a quick internet search to see what other people like to load for Enfields and see right off the bat that it's a cluttered space. Do any of you gentlemen have experience with Enfields and if so, do you have any counsel to offer on steps to start with toward 1) finding out what the rifle can do with an optimal load [this implies knowing an optimal load, of course] and 2) evaluating whether a new barrel is merited and finding a good one if so.

The rifle is clean and beautiful. I am not interested in sporterizing, just in seeing what the old gun can do with a little proper care and attention.


21 Dec 2018
@ 09:06 pm (GMT)

Warwick Marflitt

Re: Revisiting the 1917 Enfield
Hey Josh. Firstly it's a Rifle not "the gun". Lol
Read this and watch the video. If you haven't already?
Nathan knows a wee bit about the old 10 shot battle rifle. King of the Mad minute..... Mk7 ball ammo with cordite nitrocellulose stick propellent was the battle load in the day. It has a bit of a boot to it 😆. And if you don't hot water and clean the barrel correctly it's a sure way to wreck the rifling...I've got my dads 1910 BSA with express sights and covered bolt dust shield. It used to be a tack driver but sadly 25 years at my uncles place didn't do it any favours in an uncontrolled atmosphere. Trueflite where doing a barrel for them. Call Grant or look at the TF website.
23 Dec 2018
@ 08:41 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Revisiting the 1917 Enfield
Hi Joshua, just treat it like any other rifle. Start by assessing the bore and muzzle. A scrub and polish will be needed before inspection. Allow solvent to soak for a good length of time, see if it starts to lift any rust. You'll need two types of solvent, one to lift copper, the other to lift rust after leaving for a couple of days to soak in. Polish afterwards.

The simplest way to address a damaged muzzle is via the Manson crowning kit. This can be used by anyone without any extra tools. You will find that any rifle used for drill training (before being sold on the civilian market) possibly has a damaged muzzle from the way these were thrown into trucks etc. So make sure you inspect the muzzle carefully.

Regarding loads, you will need to load 40 thou shorter than mag length. But do check the actual max OAL and learn what you can about the throat.

Use the 178gr ELD-M for starters. H4350 or similar powder. Start low and work up. The rifle will handle full power loads but the sights may not so just play with it.

Regarding the sights, minor issues can be resolved by adjusting or altering either the loads or your sights. Major issues (e.g rifle shoots 12" high @ 100y) need to be addressed via the stock. In some instances, the wood underneath the barrel needs to be relieved to some extent. In other instances, the top wood may need to be shimmed to force the barrel down. Its something you have to play with at the range (temporary shims), then go home and set about more permanent shimming. So for example, I tend to shim under the action to float the barrel for a temporary test in the older rifles.

In some instances, you can use modified methods of my rigid mounting (Accurizing book) to set the rifle up for the field long term, without doing any wood prep so that the rifle can be set back to its original order if need be.

Regarding factory ammo, try Hornady Vintage Garand Match (anything mild featuring the 178gr A-MAX / ELD-M).

If you need a new barrel, it may take some machining / extra costs. It is what it is. Once the new barrel goes on, the value of the rifle is compromised to some extent. I don't care too much about the value, more about the condition. If you are like me, you could go with either blued or dull garnet blasted stainless. On Thomas's and my own Lee Enfield for example, the barrel is stainless. The piece of mind from having an all weather bore is great. Others would not like this, each to their own.

Getting back to test loads, often, the modern rifles (24") will often give 2700fps for 57gr H4350 with the 178gr. If I had to guess the velocity for a mid point load for your older and possibly worn rifle, I would guess that 54gr would produce 2500fps. I would start with maybe 12 of these. Get myself of on paper, see how high I am, start making adjustments if the rifle is shooting way high. After this first round of testing, I would then get into load work.

If you want to try one of your heavier pills in this rifle, go for it. Start with 220gr bullet data, using H4831sc or similar. The only thing to consider here is that the modern longsters sometimes shoot to the same POI as the lighter lower BC stuff. So if you are hoping to use a slow bullet to drop the POI, it may not happen. On the other hand, in a trapped barrel design, it can alter harmonics. If you want to, you could run a few of these on the same first day of testing, just to observe harmonics vs open sight settings.

To others - in the rear locking lug Lee Enfield (not rhe above M1917), a change in bullet weight produces a dramatic shift in POI. Furthermore, even a slight change in ogive shape and charge (one brand of ammo to another) can change the POI by a good 6" or more at 100 yards.

Hope that helps a bit Josh.
24 Dec 2018
@ 11:50 pm (GMT)

Warwick Marflitt

Re: Revisiting the 1917 Enfield
This is almost exactly like my Dads 303
Except the barrels longer on my dads one.

Video of similar rifle


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