cart SHOPPING CART You have 0 items

Discussion Forums

Search forums
Forum Index > Rifles general discussion > Things to look for when purchasing a 303

Things to look for when purchasing a 303

01 Feb 2016
@ 02:21 pm (GMT)

Cor Nepgen

Hi All,

I would appreciate a bit of advice, a friend of mine is looking into buying a 303 rifle and asked me to go along with him and have a look.

The details of the rifle are as follows;
1915 BSA No.1 mk3 (still with original barrel). The original wooden stock has been replaced with a synthetic one and the barrel fitted with a suppressor.

He intends to use the rifle for bush hunting (northern areas of South Africa). Hunting Blue Wildebeest and similar size animals.

I think the caliber is quite capable for his intended target species but I know some of these rifles have seen better days. He is not interested in re-barreling any time soon as the cost associated with this (and paperwork) would make buying new more economical. I have studied the books and continue to read as it takes me a while to really process all the information. So things like the suppressor worries me a little. Luckily he will have chance to shoot the rifle before buying so that makes it easier. I was curious if there are any specific points to look out for in these rifles that may indicate accuracy is on the decline.

Any advice would be much appreciated!

Thanks, Cor


01 Feb 2016
@ 05:20 pm (GMT)

Thomas Kitchen

Re: Things to look for when purchasing a 303
hi Cor
the humble 303 really is the work horse of the commonwealth.
there's doesn't seem to be a lot that goes wrong with them but they are all old now with worn barrels.

check the barrel is the major thing, it is 100 years old and has a 10 round mag, chances are its seen better days.

check the magazine spring tension and the follower isn't bent.

check trigger pull weight they do vary a bit and can be modified but it may be another thing your friend has to think about.

have a look at brass that you fire, unless you have head space gauges it hard to tell much but check brass anyway (keep in mind that saami specs for reamer is 20 degree shoulder and specs on ammo is 16 degree so you'll see a massive change after firing).

hope i covered most of it cheers
01 Feb 2016
@ 07:03 pm (GMT)

Cor Nepgen

Re: Things to look for when purchasing a 303
Hi Thomas,

Thank you very much for the advise, I really appreciate it. I am sure this will help.


01 Feb 2016
@ 08:35 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Things to look for when purchasing a 303
Hi Cor. OK, lets see.

As Thomas says, the bores on these are mostly done now. Even if the bore looks good, if the rifle was used for culling etc, the throat may be cracked and it is important to understand that eventually, the barrels do rupture at the chamber. But this involves a very high round count- culling / cadet training etc. You'll need to check the muzzle and what you can see of the bore up close as Warwick did with his BSA CF2 in the other thread. Check the throat as best you can.

Putting a suppressor on an enfield? The barrel is quite thin on the Mk111, check to see how far the barrel was turned down for thread cutting. An M12 thread is too thin for your local temperatures. Heat trapping within the bore is also an issue (you are up at 40C lately?). Barrel corrosion is an issue during wetter seasons / evening dew etc. Corrosion of the suppressor is also a major issue if the last owner had access to cordite loads.

The plastic stocks have a better ergonomic feel but are far from stable. The fore stock would need bedding work etc to enhance accuracy potential. I prefer to inlet a pistol grip and fit a small comb into the original wood but many people do prefer the look and feel of the synthetic.

Study the scope mounts if it has them. Some are quite badly aligned and have odd ball bases. This needs to be checked on all old military bolt actions including the Mausers. Make sure no screw holes interfere with lug rebates on all ex military bolt guns (have to go by eyeometer in your case sorry)

The trigger will of course be quite heavy. Many of us including myself cut our teeth on this rifle but if the person has very limited experience or does not have the help of an experienced shooter, the person can pick up bad trigger habits and bad over all habits. Here again we see the need for a system of full control as per my last book.

Head space as Thomas said is an issue. Check fired brass to make sure it is not stretched to the point of breaking. The best DIY check would be to cut a case lengthways but this is typically beyond the scope of a basic buyer check. You can at least try to look at used cases and look for a bump and shiny mark.

Make sure it is tested at 100 yards, not 25 yards etc. Some of the old rifles go OK at 25 yards but then scatter shots out at 100 yards of more with yaw.

Generally speaking, BSA made a nice rifle. But these are getting on now. Very dicey business as far as the bore goes.
02 Feb 2016
@ 01:56 pm (GMT)

Cor Nepgen

Re: Things to look for when purchasing a 303
Thanks Nathan,

Really appreciate all the advice and input. Will try and keep an eye out for these things…




We are a small, family run business, based out of Taranaki, New Zealand, who specialize in cartridge research and testing, and rifle accurizing.