Sunday, August 23, 2020

Just Some Lees

Back in the olden days, Great Britain had a firearms industry and produced the redoubtable Lee Enfield. I used to train on them when I was a kid, from about the age of 12 up, and shot alright, "marksman" and all of that.

 1917 my friend

Of course you can't buy them in the UK now because they're far too dangerous, but you can in Texas and I did, some 10 years ago, a No. 4 Mk. 1 from the Gold Nugget pawn. I think it cost around $200 and I've had a lot of fun shooting it, in a nostalgic kind of way. It seems a heavy beast now, though I didn't notice all those years ago.

 note Chesterton's St. Francis, which is awesome

But a #4 wasn't enough, apparently. Suburban Bushwacker persuaded me to go out and get a "project Lee," idea being to turn it into... something. So I did, a 1917 BSA SMLE for 100 bucks at Ray's in Dallas. The metal was painted black, probably due to a parade square refit in the 1950s, the forestock had been chopped, badly, but the serials matched and the bore was bright. So I got the gun.

history in the stamps

Some months later I'd stripped and reblued the metal, along with its cacophany of stampings, neat history if you want to go down the Lee rabbit hole, and replaced the forestock while keeping the butt. Why? Because I liked the Edwardian aesthetics; elegant, though not helpful with optics because the buttstock's too low to achieve cheek weld with a scope. Wasn't designed for it, you see.

Speaking of which, after inletting the receiver/barrel I spent a vast amount of time shaping and polishing the wood (Boyd's walnut -- cheap, semi inlet). No kidding, if you decide to do this be prepared to be patient. It's perhaps worth it because you can create a thing of beauty, a good in itself. But remember, people charge a lot of money for a good wood finish for a very good reason.

Regardless, the rifle's done well enough despite it's, ahem, makeshift scope mount and's shot a bobcat, an auodad(!) and various varmints. No pigs though, annoyingly. I look at it and reflect; over a hundred years old and still going strong, maybe stronger even than it ever was.

 typical trigger scene

Well, you can't have too much of a good thing, so I went out and bought another Lee, an old sporterized #4, with a view to turning it into a scout rifle, Cooper style. And hey, it's got the components, 10 round magazine, bolt action, BUIS, tried and true rugged, etc. 

Have I done anything with it? No, I haven't, shamefacedly. But when I do... it'll be along the lines of shortening the barrel, a new front site, a forward mounted optic and new wood, obviously. I say wood instead of plastic because this is a Lee.

look, put the safety on, so-called "LSP"

And Lees are all about wood and steel.

Shoot straight,



LindaG said...

Nice looking rifles, Parson.

RHT447 said...

Craftsmanship at Holland and Holland.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

I bought my first rifle at around age 14 from an auction where I worked moving stuff on and off the stage. It was a VFW Post discard Kraig .30-.40. I think the post moved up to 03 Springfields. I took deer and one elk with it then "lent" it to a cousin who kept his family in venison for the next thirty years. His son is still using it. After my cousin died, his widow offered to get it back to me. I told her her son could continue to "borrow" it. I don't know the age but the US Army adopted them in 1892. In a different caliber, the Danish Army used them in WWII.

LL said...

Wood and steel, yes. But plastic black rifles are good too. It's all in what you have and what you want to do with it.

Anonymous said...


Ah yes, the venerable Lee Enfield. Like you I officially learnt to shoot with it, in reality (as a country boy with mostly ex service family – those that had survived - dads father had twelve brothers, all served in WW1, only two came back. Most uncles weren’t old enough for WW2 but Korea, Suez, etc.) family had already had me shooting using their ‘acquired’ No. 4 Mark 1/2.

I learnt drill with the L59A1 (a travesty made non-firing – what a waste).

We were still being issued L1A1 SLR (FN FAL to the colonials) when I passed out, but being judged worthy I got to play with L42A1 ‘down south’ and ‘across the water’.

“Quite a bit heavier”? It feels heavier, because it probably is. The cadet forces were issued No.7, No. 8, No. 9 - .22 conversions (and a d*mn site easier to shoot than a No. 4 in 7.62, let alone in .303 – I can still feel the bruises from my first bungled ‘learning experience’ attempt. My uncles didn’t believe in ‘coddling’. Ouch!).

I used to (fond reminiscence) have a ‘full’ set (Mk1, Mk11, Mk111, No.4 Mk I, No.4 Mk I*, No.5, No.4 Mk2 and even a 7.62 2A1) If you ever get the chance, the Rifle No. 5 Mk I ‘The Jungle Carbine’ was the ‘sweetest’ (though definitely not the most accurate) although I’d love the DeLisle carbine (suppressed in .45 ACP) we were still using in the early 90’s (AI had a number for sale a few years ago when I was playing with their AWSM in Portsmouth).

Thus endeth my trip down memory lane.

(I'd just like it on record that .... I really, really, really want to move to Texas!!!)

Jim said...

One of the joys of being an RSO at the local range is that folks sometimes bring interesting firearms on occasion and now and then they offer to let me try them. A few weeks ago a gentle brought out a #5 Enfield, the jungle carbine.
Him: Would you like to shoot it?
Me: Twist my arm.
Fun stuff.
I too have a sporterized #4 Enfield laying around waiting for me to do something with it. Someday I will.

Fredd said...

Yes, the Enfield was a mighty handsome rifle, and when all polished up made a great parade weapon. Yes, they weigh a ton compared to those black rifles everywhere now.

That, and black rifles scare liberals who even look at them. Makes them poo their trousers.

Anonymous said...

Back in the very early 1960s, while I was still a college student, I bought a Enfield .303 from Montgomery Wards in Austin, TX. I don't recall the exact price, but I'm sure it was no more than $20; my student budget would not stretch any more than that. That fired a rimmed center fire cartridge; is that what your rifles use, Parson?

After some discussion with my teachers (the engineering faculty), they convinced me that the Mauser action was better, so I went back to Wards and picked up a 1908 Mauser 7.62 mm made for Peru (beautiful crest stamped on the receiver ring). I have not fired that rifle in nearly 50 years, although I fear the need may soon arise the way the political situation is going.

Fr. Sam+

Kid said...

@RHT. Loved watching the craftsmanship. Lots of fun to be working in less than .001/inch.
Some great looking wood. Figured or maybe burled Walnut it looks like. Beautiful stuff.

Kid said...

I once owned a British .303. Pushing a lead ball through the barrel let me know the barrel was now in .311. I got the proper size bullets from Hornady for reloading.

I don't know that wood in the last one looks like it has some character if it's still functional. It shouldn't be hard to find someone to make replacements if that's what you want though. Maybe even find them ready to go on the net?

Anonymous said...


Your measurement is roughly standard. The .303 nomenclature was based on the size of the bore measured ‘between the lands’ (as is/was the European standard). Between the grooves nominal was around .311. Recommended bullet diameter was .312 inch (7.92 mm).

As you'll know, there are many available production loadings available (thanks to The Canadians, continued service use, mostly and their using it for protection against black and even polar bear). I've never reloaded it but have heard there can be 'issues' (and also problems with the flat-bottomed MkvII bullet for hunting). What's your experience?

LSP said...

Thanks, Linda, of course I need to get the project gun stocked...

LSP said...

What a great vid, RHT. That splinter forend doesn't come cheap... and I know why.

LSP said...

WSF, I've only shot a Krag once but liked it. I felt it had a similar feel to a Lee, oddly.

AND I've never shot an elk, which is a bad lack on my part. Maybe I'll make up the deficiency with a visit to the WWM. Though, to be honest, I don't like killing things. Still, meat in the freezer.

LSP said...

LL, I couldn't agree more.

For me, various Lee projects were/are just that, fun gun projects, and keeping to the wood/steel thing seems right, given the provenance of the weapons. That said, these curios work and have, perhaps remarkably, shot game. So that's alright then.

But ye Gods, the old military #4? Heavy.

LSP said...

Colonel Anon, you're always welcome here in in Texas and I have a feeling you might like to join the DLC (Dallas Light Cavalry). It's a small but prestigious unit, LL's the RHSM (Regimental Horse sergeant Major). So, swing by and visit, plenty of room.

And yes, I passed out with the SLR (aka 'broomstick'), which makes us contemps, tho you became a real soldier, and I remember the buzz about the new rifle. Would it be any good?!? I guess they worked out the kinks, but what do I know, just an LSP, eh?

Crush Bolshevism underheel.

LSP said...

Fredd, I'd say say yes, except the commies have started carrying weapons, AKs, predictably.

Look, morons, it's all a larf 'til you wake up and your buddy's elbow's blown off.

Kid said...

Thanks for the info Anon. All this time I thought the barrel was well shot out. Well, I'm not familiar with such detail on the bullet makeup and in fact sold the rifle mid 1980's. Been a while. I believe the bullets were in the 175 gr range but could have been as much as 215. If they were part aluminum I wouldn't have known. My 303 would not load pointed bullets. They'd get stuck halfway up the ramp so I had to use round nose.

I'm not a hunter but have nothing against hunters. At a makeshift range in the desert North of Phoenix, I noted the 303 would go directly through a V8 engine block without breathing hard.

LSP said...

Sam, the Mauser action won out!

Dam... but think, if it goes hot, our job's to be Padre/Chaplain. The youngsters can and will win the firefight :)

Are you getting FIC? Just asking.

LSP said...

KId, the military configured #4 is good to go and shoots pretty well, considering. The scoped up sporter shoots remarkably for a hundred year old rifle and the metal action has yet to be tried. I'll get some wood for the beast and take it out to the range.

But PS. .303's become an annoying round. Hard enough to get 5.56...

LSP said...

Anonymous (and Anon), back in the day, when I was a boy at King's Canterbury and en route for a commission in the Royal Green Jackets, my Cadet RSM, an Arnhem veteran, said, "When you get to that point there's so many men running around, no one knows what the hell's going on, not even the f*king generals."

He was a good man, a father in a way, and loved his 1911. Liked shooting pistols. But the faceless bureaucrats took that gun away from him.

I hate them.

If the above's off-topic, so be it.

Anonymous said...

You asked if I am receiving FIC. The short answer is NO, I have not seen a thing, but I'd still like to do so. Thanks,

LSP said...

OK, I'll make sure you get on the list, which you should be. Can you emailme your contact ingo? (again)


LSP said...

*info etc.

Anonymous said...


SA80 is actually a pretty nice weapon (I just wish it were in a better calibre). As, I’m sure, I’ve alluded to, most of the teething problems were the result of the deliberate sabotage of the developmental process (so they could destroy Enfield, and sell it off cheap). If you do the research, all the (vaunted) HK team did (other than exaggerating the issues) was … implement minor changes that the previous teams (withdrawn at the bureaucrats demands) had worked out (I’ve not made any friends by pointing out that almost to a man the very ‘experts’ who attack Enfield are … current, or former, HK employees. Name a mass produced rifle that ‘didn’t’ have issues at the beginning).

[I’m not the biggest HK fan. Most of their product is over-engineered cr*p, bettered by FN, SIG and countless others. I ‘laughed’ when I heard B&T had won your subgun contract - their entire APC line-up is quite good, I quite like the APC308, MP9, SPR300 and love the APR338 … now if I could just win the lottery and move to Texas].

It’s reliable, wieldy and quite accurate (much better than the M4’s – barrel length makes a difference).

Saying that, there are better out there (I still wonder where we’d be if EM-2 had remained in service).

My current favourite is the FN SCAR (both in L and H configuration, and the H Mod 0 is nearly as accurate as my old AI AICS).

Oh, and you simply can't conceive of just how much 'I' hate those faceless bureaucrats safe behind their Whitehall desks (I was once almost cashiered after Bosnia, apparently threatening/attempting to 'dispatch' a senior functionary at Century House isn't allowed, and would have been if my superior MR hadn't wanted to do the same himself).

Anonymous said...


Part of the issue is that it’s one of the few bottlenecked, rimmed centrefire cartridges still in use, and with a shoulder angle of 17 degrees. From what I’ve heard (round or pointed) issues arise mainly because extreme care (way more than normal) has to exercised regarding neck sizing.

The Canadians, as mentioned, use it for everything from whitetail up to polar bear. In Africa it’s used from impala up to Kudzu.

I don’t hunt (It’s not as much ‘fun’ when they don’t fire back) but I have taken an elk (with Sellier & Bellot 150 gr SJSP) for some Sammi friends I stay with regularly (in Finland/Sweden/Norway or wherever the heard is).

LSP said...

Never fired the SA80, Anon, oddly, but have enjoyed blasting away S&B 150 gr. Been a while though...

gL said...

One of the dumbest posts ever, even for you. Did you run out of posts about getting an oil change or your laptop? So fuck*d.

LSP said...

That's a great point, gL! 🧡🦄🌈🤸‍♂️

Kid said...

I'm thinking gl is having a devil of a time finding underwear in any color that fits and is confused about where to direct her/his/its anger.

LSP said...

It seems that way, Kid, and why attack an innocuous semi-antique gun restoration post? Weird. I suspect alcohol...

GL, you should say sorry for being rude :) or Anonymous will hunt you down with a SCAR.