Educational Zone #79 – Tightening Up the Groups on an Old Rifle

Some of you may remember that I have an old 1917 Enfield that is a really nice example. 

Here it is.

e79-1
It is a really nice example on the outside and even has Elmer Keith’s cartouche on the stock, indicating that he once inspected it at Ogden Arsenal.

But as nice as it is on the outside, the bore is enough to make a grown man cry.

It is as rough as a dried corn cob.

I have done some experiments to improve the accuracy of this rifle in the past.

But I was still not completely satisfied with the accuracy of this fine old rifle and wanted to try to make it shoot even better I decided that maybe the old, worn rifling just wasn’t getting a good purchase on the bullets as they went down the tube. 

I had an idea…. What if the bullets were just slightly larger in diameter? I decided to try another experiment.

First, I wanted to show you fellows the profile on standard military .30-06 Ball bullets.

I will pull one to show you how they look.

To pull a bullet on a round of military ball, it is first necessary to break the seal formed by the asphaltic sealer that is between the bullet and the case.

This is most easily done by first pushing the bullet back into the case a little.

I set up my press with the seating die about 1/16th of an inch deeper than the loaded round’s length.

e79-2

Then I pushed the bullet into the case that little bit.

Then I raised the cartridge through the press after removing the seating die.

e79-3

Then I placed a large washer on the top of the press to protect the threads and grabbed the bullet with some Vise Grip pliers.

e79-4

Then you just pull up on the press handle and the bullet comes right out.

e79-5

My bright idea was to try some bullets made for the .303 British cartridge.

These bullets are .311 in diameter, instead of .308 diameter, which is the standard for a .30-06.

Here’s the two different bullets.

e79-6

You can see that in addition to having .003″ more diameter, the bullet also has a longer driving area.

I loaded up some rounds with 53.0 Grains of AA-4350 and seated the .311 bullets.

Well, only one way to find out if these will work.

e79-7

Continued below...

We set up some targets at 50 yards, and gave decided to start with some .30-06 Ball I bought from the CMP.

These usually do not shoot too well in this rifle, but shoot fine in other rifles with good bores.

e79-8

Here we go.

e79-9

And here’s the 5 shot group.

As Tman noted, “That’s not a “group”, that’s a “pattern.”

e79-10

Let’s try some of the .311 bullets.

e79-11

I shoot them off the same bench set-up.

e79-12

Here’s the group, 5 shots.

e79-13

Let’s take a closer look…

That’s a fine group for a 90 year old rifle, shot by a 60 year old shooter.

e79-14

Conclusion:
1. We carefully checked for pressure signs and found none at all. cases extracted and ejected easily and the primers showed nice, rounded edges, with no flattening.

2. It looks like I’ve found a load this old rifle likes and it now shoots great!

3. Col. Townsend Whelen was right when he said, “Only accurate rifles are interesting.”

1 Comment on Educational Zone #79 – Tightening Up the Groups on an Old Rifle

  1. rangerrick // May 10, 2016 at 11:17 pm // Reply

    I too have the p-17 Enfield made 9-1918. It was made by Eddystone and is blued, meaning it is still in ww1 configuration as all ww2 guns were parkerized. I found with 165 gr hornady spire points and IMR 4831 it shoots amazingly accurate and can put scoped rifles to shame by giving 1/4 inch 3 shot groups at 100yds as long as I do my part. They are great rifles!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*