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Identify this Enfield?

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Category: Enfields
Forum Name: Enfield Rifles
Forum Description: Anything that has to do with the great Enfield rifles!
Printed Date: May 31 2020 at 3:40pm
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Topic: Identify this Enfield?
Posted By: dfilcek
Subject: Identify this Enfield?
Date Posted: September 03 2019 at 4:22pm
My mother told me that my father returned with this rifle from his second tour in Vietnam. A little research indicates that this is possible but unlikely. Anybody able to identify this rifle by its markings?  My father and mother are now both gone so I cannot ask them about this rifle. 

Posted By: A square 10
Date Posted: September 03 2019 at 7:02pm
its a no1 rifle of the mkIII/III* type , there are a lot of other bits we need to see to help much more , the "U" often indicates South Africa ownership but i cannot be certain with what little i see , there are markings under the bolt handle at the wrist that will tell a lot of the story , 

the cockingknob looks early , 
EFD used the prefix "R" in 1914, 1915 . 1916 , and 1919 ,
SSA used it in 1017 and 1918 , 
NRF used it in 1918
EFD switched to mkIII* in the 1916 era with R prefix zone but none of that helps a lot without seeing the wrist below the bolt 

seeing the rear sight will tell us a bit as well 

hope that helps a little , 

Posted By: The Armourer
Date Posted: September 03 2019 at 11:51pm
Originally posted by A square 10 A square 10 wrote:

its a no1 rifle of the mkIII/III* type , there are a lot of other bits we need to see to help much more , the "U" often indicates South Africa ownership but i cannot be certain with what little i see ,

The U on the bolt head is to show armourers the type of steel used - (I cannot remember which one was the U)
The South African ownership mark is in the top of the breech and is a /|\ inside the U.

The original specification for the bolt head steel was "the bolt-head to be made from malleable cast-iron, specifically 34F Special gun iron, case hardened".

In later specifications it states "If the bolt-head be made of mild steel it is to be marked with the letter "M" on the top of the wing."

Then the specifications were changed again & stated the steel used for the "Head, breech bolt -- Steel B.S.S.5005/103 -- Case hardened and polished"

The fact that it has UK civilian proof marks showing it has been sold out of military service and into the UK civilian gun-trade would suggest to me that your family story is probably not fact based.

Posted By: SW28fan
Date Posted: September 04 2019 at 4:32am
There usually are markings  on the metal band (Butt Socket) under the bolt handle.  I suppose a Lee Enfield could have found its way to Vietnam but most likely your bought this after his tour in Nam as they
had been surplused and were being sold here for very low prices.

Have a Nice Day
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Posted By: Shamu
Date Posted: September 04 2019 at 9:21am
Its an early (pre 1915 SMLE aka ShtLE or "Rifle No1 MkIII") depending on the date.
The cocking piece & center sling swivel indicate the early manufacture. The threaded cast fitting was replaced with a wire "loop" after that as the sing swivels weren't used in that position except for target shooting, but it became a tie-down for a breech cover canvas.

The "U" mark indicated a "white cast iron, gunmetal" material, chosen for its ability to retain oil in the pores & having excellent compressible strength.

How it would have gotten to French Indo-China is a mystery! My best guess would be a privately owned civilian rifle taken by some kind of Farmer/ rancher/ hunter. Can you get pictures of the markings on the butt socket showing if it had a "Royal Cypher (crown) or not?

Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)

Posted By: dfilcek
Date Posted: September 04 2019 at 11:05am
Here are a couple more pictures that probably give more clarity.

Posted By: A square 10
Date Posted: September 04 2019 at 5:01pm
yup - my orriginal post indicated that serial could be SSA - and it is , 1918 , but , SSA did not build complete in house , i see it is marked MkIII* and that would be correct for 1918 , i cannot read the number on the backsite but it should match the bolt handle and receiver , possibly the bayonet boss , maybe the magazine box , 

sorry about the mislead on south africa - i remembered the Uarrow they use on the receiver but could not recall the metallurgy markings on the bolt head , thankfully there are others to correct my foggy old mind , 

Posted By: hoadie
Date Posted: September 04 2019 at 5:19pm
"possible" thread. I saw a doco few nights back. the British had occupied (what is now) Viet Nam..right at the end of the war.
They cleared the Japaneese out of there & took alot of prisoners.

The japaneese P.O.W.s became stateless, & were being kept by the British.
The Viet Minh started to fight, & the British re-armed the Japaneese & they fought together for a while.

Maybe thats where this oddity came from?

Loose wimmen tightened here

Posted By: Bear43
Date Posted: September 04 2019 at 9:57pm
The way Enfield rifles have gotten all over the world it is plausible to say there were some kicking around in Vietnam. In any event, you have a desirable peddled scheme No 1.

Posted By: dfilcek
Date Posted: September 05 2019 at 2:48am
I have heard that some versions of Enfields lack sufficient rifling and have a tendency to keyhole 174 grain .303 ammo.  Should I be concerned?  I am having a gunsmith look it over this weekend to clean it and inspect it and make any necessary repairs.  Any specific versions of the Enfield that have less rifling?

Posted By: Shamu
Date Posted: September 05 2019 at 6:34am
You've kind of mis heard a part of the story.
2-groove bores that are worn frequently keyhole with boat-tail bullets.
I believe that was strictly a No4 Mk1* problem though as the 2 -groove bores were a wartime expedient thing in WW2.

Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)

Posted By: dfilcek
Date Posted: September 05 2019 at 7:37am
Thanks. This good information.

Posted By: Stanforth
Date Posted: September 05 2019 at 8:08am
My No.4 mk1* Savage with 2 groove rifling tends to keyhole with light loads but is fine with service loads (and a bit more) using boat tail bullets.

Life.. a sexually transmitted condition that is invariably fatal.

Posted By: englishman_ca
Date Posted: September 05 2019 at 9:03am
Boat tailed bullets in Mk.VIII cartridges were introduced to give longer range for use in machine guns, they can be used in rifles, but it was not their intended use.

Rifles with bores that have insufficient rifling, then yes, boat tails could tumble. Boat tails seen to like tight bores, not worn with throat erosion as is found with many ex-service rifles.

Most rifles prefer a certain size and form of bullet. All of mine love flat based .312 diameter. Hand reloading is the way to go to find the sweet spot of bullet and powder. An entire hobby in itself.

Look to your front, mark your target when it comes!

Posted By: A square 10
Date Posted: September 05 2019 at 9:48pm
they are service rifles by design - mass produced with minute of man accuracy , those that expect target accuracy without any efforts to improve will be disappointed , sometimes it takes a lot of effort and expense , enjoy it for what it is unless your ready to make that journey , 

Posted By: Shamu
Date Posted: September 06 2019 at 6:55am
OK, it has the crown so it was originally a military rifle.
Its (crown over) BNP proofed, so it was sold out of service in the U.K & received its civilian proofing at the Birmingham Proof House, then somehow made its way to French Indo-China or Vietnam. How & when  god only knows.

Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)

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