I got a note from my friend UH_SALT_RIFLE (Pronounced “Assault Rifle”) from AR15.com, that said:
“I want to donate something to you and your wonderful Box-O-Truth and information posts. I consider it an experiment and a challenge for you. All I ask is that you do one of your cool threads with it if possible. This is FREE. A gift to you from me for all the information and fun threads you have given me and ARFCOM.
I have this .303 Enfield that I just don’t really care for. I paid $80 for it. It’s rough. It may not be a gift, but more of a curse! Since I know how much you seem to love the old guns, I thought of you. I want to give it a chance and you are the ONLY man I know who can do it.
All you have to do is say ok. It’s yours. Once you do your thing with it it’s yours to do with as you please. What do ya say? Up for a challenge?”
How could I pass up a deal like that? I said, sure, send it!
I sent him a copy of my C&R and his FFL shipped it to me. I opened the box and thought, “He wasn’t kidding. This one is rough!”
It was leaking oil from the wood, but the metal didn’t look too bad. The bore looked like a muddy road after 50 Abrams Tanks had driven down it. It was enough to make a grown man cry.
But I called Tman and said, “You bored?” He said, “Sure.” I said, “I got us a project.” He said, “It’s about time.”
Here it is as I got it. The gun didn’t look too bad from a ways off.
But it had a bad crack in the stock.
The handguard was loose.
The stock was pretty beat up.
And it had this “fatal flaw” in the stock.
If I had the broken piece, we might have tried to repair it with some Ishapore screws and glue, as we’ve had good luck with those in the past. But you can’t glue and screw what isn’t there any more. This meant we needed a replacement stock.
I placed an order for the needed parts and also called Lauer for some “#63, Gun Blue” paint. We’re gonna make this one look Pretty!
I went to work cleaning it up in the mean time.
We noticed a couple of interesting issues. We saw that it had a front sight protector that was “square” instead of “rounded” like on most .303 #1, Mark 3s.
Here’s a pic comparing it (top) to one of Tman’s with the rounded protector (bottom).
The square ones are often seen on Indian .308 models.
We even considered that it might be a replacement, but careful observation revealed that it was serial numbered to the rifle.
In fact, all the parts, including the bolt, were serial numbered correctly.
The rifle was made in 1949, after WWII. Kind of late for this model.
I wish I could show you pics of the “before and after” of the bore. I scrubbed it and soaked it with Shooter’s Choice and Kroil, then scrubbed it again. I did this about 8 times over a period of a couple of days. By then, it started to clean up pretty nicely and was actually smooth with plenty of rifling.
Just goes to show that you never know until you clean them up. I bet it will also get even nicer after I shoot it some and clean it some more.
I got the replacement stock in and it was an Indian drill rifle set.
It had about a gallon of Cosmoline on it.
It was frightening.
I did the old Easy-Off clean up on it and after about three sessions, I got it clean.
I then lightly sanded the parts with 220 grit to remove the feathered wood.
Here’s what it looked like after clean-up.
As you can see, the woods were completely different. Tman looked at it and said, “This is going to be really tough to get them to match.”
I assured him, “Maybe for mere mortals, but not for you.”
Tman stained them to match and finished them, but he was not completely satisfied with the match. But it looked nearly perfect to me.
I got the steel all cleaned up with Mineral Spirits and cleaned off any rust. Then we painted it with the Duracoat.
Here we are putting the screws on a piece of cardboard, a good way to paint the screw heads.
Here I apply a thin coat of Duracoat.
I believe the trick is a good gravity feed paint gun and thin coats.
The secret is thin coats.
Here I am painting the screws.
And the nose piece.
We let the parts dry 24 hours and then we put it back together.
Here it is.
I even painted the sights, as they had no finish left on them
And another one.
It is always fun to work on a project like this and it gives us a feeling of satisfaction to know that we have turned an old battle horse into a fun shooter, once again.
Went to the range this morning.
Tried five rounds of Knoch military surplus.
Here’s the results.
You will notice the group (actually 4 shots) to the right of the bull.
The other round was a hang-fire, which I sometimes get with the Knoch ammo.
Looks like I need to drift the front sight a little to the right, to get it on target.
I then tried some reloads I loaded with some 150 grain Hornady Spitzer bullets over some IMR-4895.
Not much better.
I shot several more groups, and they were all about like these.
So, am I disappointed with these groups?
Not in one way.
They definitely need to be “better”, but that’s half the fun of shooting C&R rifles.
I now get to play around with various tricks and try to shrink the groups a little.
But it shot just fine and was a pleasure to shoot. I’m going to enjoy playing around with it.
One last thing and I’ll quit boring you guys with this.
I have often found that shooting and cleaning and shooting and cleaning an old rifle barrel will smooth the bore out, if cleaned properly.
I got home from shooting and did my usual at-home cleaning.
I ran a patch with Shooter’s Choice/Kroil down the bore and then scrubbed it with a .35 caliber brass brush.
I then ran another wet patch with copper solvent down the bore and let it sit for a while, about 1 hour.
I then ran another soaked patch down the bore and got this green stuff.
That green residue means that the copper solvent is removing copper from the bore, which is a good thing.
I then ran the brush down the bore 8 strokes both ways and then a wet patch and got this:
That stuff means that there is still fouling and gunk in the bore.
So, another wet patch and let it soak.
I will do this several times and the patches will get cleaner and cleaner.
I expect that just doing this will help the accuracy of this fine old rifle.
Many thanks to UH_SALT_RIFLE for the project and to Tman for all the help.