SMLE Barrel Wear ?? Hows this ??

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  • SMLE Barrel Wear ?? Hows this ??

    HI Guys,

    I have seen a few posts on line where an easy way to gauge your rifle barrel wear is to put a live round down the crown of the barrel. From my understanding of it, if the bullet sits out of the barrel and the case does not touch, then the barrel is still good. Do I have it right ?

    I have an old SMLE marked on the side GR over a crown has a date 1917 SHTLE and III* on it.

    I got it cheap and it is in not great condition on the outside having some pitting scratches and dings on the metal work. When I got it as my first buy on my licence a few years ago, it was described as condition being fair. It had very poor woodwork, so I replaced this, and I was looking at turning it into a kind of sporter, or scout rifle. I have been thinking that I might need to get a new barrel for it, but on putting a round in the end of the barrel it looks like it still is ok to me ?

    The barrel was full of crud when I got it and I had to give it a good scrub with brushes and solvent to make it clean and shiny. Now the barrel inside looks good and the rifling looks ok to me. Though I am not an expert.

    Can you guys have a look at the attached pic, and tell me what you think of the barrel ?? Is this a valid way of telling if your rifling is ok, or have I been following the wrong track ?

    Thanks in advance

    Cheers

    Broomy
    Click image for larger version

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  • #2
    The rifle as a whole

    Cheers

    Broomy
    Click image for larger version

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    Comment


    • #3
      Go shoot it, looks fine mate.

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      • #4
        not really the right way to assess the barrel.
        the barrels always wear out the most from the bullet entering the barrel, from the chamber where the bullet is fired.
        so what you'll end up with is a barrel that may seem ok if judged by the muzzle end, but actually be a worn out barrel due to the wear in the start of it.
        commonly called the throat of the barrel.

        the bullet passing through the barrel upon firing only partially contributes to barrel wear.
        a lot of barrel "throat" wear comes from the intense heat and flame (gun powder burning) and pressure following the bullet upon firing.
        therefore the ideal method of assessing the barrel wear is to use a 'bore scope', which can look inside your barrel, bit like a camera.
        other more basic methods include forcing a lead projectile down the barrel with a rod of some sort and assess the marks or the rifling imprint on it.

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        • #5
          Incorrect headspace can be an issue with the SMLE, so that would be the first thing to get checked. Most of the damage to barrels happens at the chamber end, which you would need a bore scope to check.

          Sometimes it's best to get your local gunsmith to give it the once over before firing.

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            Thanks Guys,

            How long will it take for a gunsmith to work out if the barrel is ok, check the chamber and check the headspace ??

            Roughly what would this cost ? Just want to plan.

            Cheers
            Broomy

        • #6
          Like Oddball said- go shoot it and see what happens!

          As far as the military were concerned, acceptable accuracy for a .303 using mk7ball ammo was a 3" to 4" group @ 100 yards,
          You should get better than that with decent commercial or reloaded ammo. [and the scope!]

          Generally, "pre loved" .303 barrels can be prone to having:
          Throat erosion from the hot burning cordite in military issue ammunition, and /or
          Muzzle wear from dodgy or over enthusiastic cleaning, and / or,
          Pitted bore- from not having the corrosive residue flushed out of the barrel after using military issue ammunition.
          ----------------------------
          I had a barrel with a horribly pitted bore that still shot accurately- so I kept the pitted barrel in the rifle until my stocks of Iraqi mk7ball ammo ran out- [several thousand rounds] then I switched to commercial non corrosive ammo and a new barrel.
          The pitted barrel was still accurate, and had plenty of rifling left - I just figured it was time for the new barrel.
          -----------------------------
          Throat erosion can be compensated for [a little] by using flat based .312" projies if you can find them, [Taipans]
          A flat based projie generally works better out to 500 yards, after 600 yards boat tails tend to be a bit better.
          ----------------------------
          Muzzle wear- usually it is only in the last couple of inches of the barrel- and caused by dragging the pull-through on an angle to the bore, if its a worry- you can often have the barrel cut back a3 or 4 of inches and recrowned.
          I did this to one of my barrels and it was good for another 4 thousandish rounds.

          Your method of testing the muzzle with a bullet is a pretty good indicator of muzzle wear- but- be aware that the assorted brands of ammunition can have different spec projies [.310", .311", .312"]
          Best if you can find a set of barrel gauges and measure properly.
          Any gunsmith or service rifle club should be able to help you.
          Doing a cerrosafe casting will give you the true dimensions of your chamber, throat and barrel.

          stephen
          all times wasted wots not spent shootin'

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            Originally posted by [email protected]" post=38715
            Like Oddball said- go shoot it and see what happens!

            As far as the military were concerned, acceptable accuracy for a .303 using mk7ball ammo was a 3" to 4" group @ 100 yards,
            You should get better than that with decent commercial or reloaded ammo. [and the scope!]

            Generally, "pre loved" .303 barrels can be prone to having:
            Throat erosion from the hot burning cordite in military issue ammunition, and /or
            Muzzle wear from dodgy or over enthusiastic cleaning, and / or,
            Pitted bore- from not having the corrosive residue flushed out of the barrel after using military issue ammunition.
            ----------------------------
            I had a barrel with a horribly pitted bore that still shot accurately- so I kept the pitted barrel in the rifle until my stocks of Iraqi mk7ball ammo ran out- [several thousand rounds] then I switched to commercial non corrosive ammo and a new barrel.
            The pitted barrel was still accurate, and had plenty of rifling left - I just figured it was time for the new barrel.
            -----------------------------
            Throat erosion can be compensated for [a little] by using flat based .312" projies if you can find them, [Taipans]
            A flat based projie generally works better out to 500 yards, after 600 yards boat tails tend to be a bit better.
            ----------------------------
            Muzzle wear- usually it is only in the last couple of inches of the barrel- and caused by dragging the pull-through on an angle to the bore, if its a worry- you can often have the barrel cut back a3 or 4 of inches and recrowned.
            I did this to one of my barrels and it was good for another 4 thousandish rounds.

            Your method of testing the muzzle with a bullet is a pretty good indicator of muzzle wear- but- be aware that the assorted brands of ammunition can have different spec projies [.310", .311", .312"]
            Best if you can find a set of barrel gauges and measure properly.
            Any gunsmith or service rifle club should be able to help you.
            Doing a cerrosafe casting will give you the true dimensions of your chamber, throat and barrel.

            stephen
            Hey Stephen,

            Thanks for this, I got this rifle as the first one after I got my licence, had a few guns back in the early 90's in QLD, but did not need a licence back then. When I got it, I knew less about the 303 family than I do now, (not that I know much now), and basically got the first thing I saw.

            I have been over the past few years, slowly learning more about civilian firearms (well the ones we are allowed to had as civilians), and have made a few purchases that I have now sold on as not what i am into. This old girl is something that I want to be able to use, to be able to take bush and shoot, and whilst having a Ruger Gunsite Scout, have found the action a bit rough, and have considered that this rifle the SMLE with a few mods might be a much nicer rifle. I came to this after thinking it would be nice to get a Jungle Carbine, and have one for shooting and one to keep in good nick. But then on reading about their wandering zero, and then did not want a rifle that would not be a good shooter.

            That is how I came to making a scout type rifle out of it.

            As for the pull through being pulled off at an angle, I think most of us who have served and used the SLR have some experience at doing that, pulling the pull through out aggressively to try and clean our rifles, so I get how that might affect the rifling at the end of the barrel. I was just planning on getting a new barrel and having it fitted, but when I saw the SH marking indicating (as far as I know) heavy barrel, I though that it might be worth saving, (barrel wise) if possible. So if its just the end of the rifling, then I was planning on cutting it anyway…..

            As for ammo, I have only commercial, and have some dies, and cases to start reloading for it. So I can determine the pressure I put on it, and won't be doing any hot loads for this old girl.

            To me being ex military (ARes) then (RAAF), but in a firearm related job, military firearms have more appeal than civilian ones, so being able to have a jungle carbine/scout type rifle made from an old SMLE will have a cool factor for me. Cooler than my Gunsite Scout. I will be wanting to have some decent iron sights put on it, and a scout rail, have the barrel cut and then its done for me. Still not convinced, but that is my general plan. I figure that having it refurbished and made into what I want is better than deciding it has finished its useful life. I will have her checked out by a gunsmith to see what she needs before having any work done or shooting her, as a just in case.

            By asking a question I have had answers that have me thinking that I need to more and the posts have helped my understanding thank you all.

            hope that this makes sense, again thanks for the post

            Cheers

            Broomy

        • #7
          Sorry but got to say it "the bullet go's in the other end :lol: "
          sorry had to.

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            Originally posted by reaper8" post=39044
            Sorry but got to say it "the bullet go's in the other end :lol: "
            sorry had to.
            Hey Reaper,

            Thats the way we rock down here in Tassie

            Though if I have been putting the bullet in the wrong way it explains why they all have misfired. !!!

            Cheers

            Broomy

        • #8
          hi you can check the head space your self get a sized shell with a live primer a pistol primer is better its softer measure it for over all length then fire it then measure it again the primer will back out if there is head space problem you correct the problem by changing the bolt head with a longer bolt head.
          then go shoot it if it doesn't group recrown the barrel and try it again .
          you could bed the action and float the barrel.
          if the barrel band and screw are still on the rifle take it off.
          if you are having trouble cleaning the barrel pour a couple of litres of boiling water down the barrel then scrub it.

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          • #9
            .

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              Originally posted by 6602steven" post=39191
              most barrel wear as has been said here occurs in the throat (where most of the powder is burned)

              the op's method of placing a loaded round or bullet into the crown of the barrel is simply a method of checking for significant crown damage (rotating the bullet 90deg should leave a uniform ring on the bullet, if not it's possible the crown is damaged)

              headspacing can more accurately checked by loading a f/l sized unprimed case into the chamber. if the bolt closes the headspace is above minimum. then layers of scotch tape can be attatched to the case head one at a time until the bolt fails to close on the case. then you can measure the case with the tape, then without and subtract to give you the headspace measurement and check if it is within specs

              be safe

              steve
              Thanks Steve,

              You make it sound incredibly easy, I will give it a go.

              Cheers

              Broomy

          • #10
            Just shoot it. Inspect each case after firing, no problems, keep shooting.

            Don't over complicate it.

            The b/s about sticky tape is just that, as different brands of brass run at different thicknesses. It's a bit like running around the triangle at high port....doesn't achieve much....

            Cheers,

            Oddball
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          • #11
            Easiest and cheapest way to measure headspacing is to contact your nearest fullbore or service rifle club, and explain that you need your threeohs headspacing checked.
            Many of the older fullbore shooters cut thier teeth on threeohs, and still have the tools and spares needed.
            Any service rifle club will be guaranteed to have at least 1 member with the gauges.
            probably cost you a sixpack at most.
            if you want to buy your own headspacing and barrel gauges, - EBAY is your friend.

            even recrowning can be done by yourself without breaking the bank.

            stephen
            all times wasted wots not spent shootin'

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              Just scanning through a few of these posts and have found some things that need addressing...

              Do not test headspace with scotch tape. The correct gauges are available, all you really need is the .074" military spec "Field" gauge. Beg, borrow or buy... if you are concerned, check it properly.
              Do not use the saami spec gauges, they invented their own sizes and then dictated to the world what they should be. Their sizes are .064" Go .068" No Go and .070" Field. Using these gauges will fail a good many perfectly serviceable rifles.
              All US .303 brass is undersize too. The perceived problems caused by case stretching blamed on headspace or oversize chambers is most often caused by inferior quality cases. Not only does the saami spec have them made smaller diameter, their rims are thinner, bases are thinner and the case walls are thinner than milspec brass. This is what has lead to the near hysteria over .303 headspace and reloading you see in some of the international forums from US members. Some of these forums have gotten themselves quite a reputation for being the origin of some of the bullshit you come across out there on the net. Beware of what you believe. Don't get caught up with people who also still believe the earth is flat!

              Headspace for a rimmed case is on the rim, the distance between the rear surface of the barrel and the front surface of the bolt.
              A .303 should close on a .064" gauge
              It should not close on a .074" gauge (not close means using the lightest of fingertip pressure and stop the instant you feel increased resistance. The caming action of a Lee Enfield bolt will close it on any gauge if you swing on it... it can also do serious damage to the rifle)
              A milspec case usually has a rim thickness between .059" and .063".
              A saami spec case can have a rim as thin as .054"... numerous samples have been done and confirm the max size will not often exceeded .059"

              Case head separations are more often caused by over worked brass... yep, you guessed it, undersized saami brass. Granted, occasionally a rifle will be beyond headspace spec and will contribute.
              When fired. the case expands outward (immediately in front of the base) and grips the chamber walls. The striker has already pushed the case forward until the rim contacts the rear of the barrel. With the case walls gripping the chamber walls, the base of the case is then pushed back until the "head gap" (distance between the bolt face and the rear of the case) is taken up. If the rifle is near max headspace, call it .072" and a milspec rim is .061, then the head gap is .011". A saami rim at .054 will leave .018" head gap! Coupled with thinner side walls and brittle brass, any wonder the cases fail! If you full length resize, that area is not being properly restored, but will stretch the same again on next firing. Thinning even more toward failure.

              To maximise the life of your brass, even the saami spec stuff, fit a tiny rubber o ring or rubber band onto the case before first firing. It should sit between the rim and the rear of the barrel, effectively holding it hard against the bolt face, leaving zero head gap on firing and centering the case in the chamber (which fixes other problems we won't worry about yet). When fired, the case walls grip the chamber walls, but the base does not go rearward as there is no gap to fill. When reloading, only neck size and trim to length the cases until they won't chamber easily any more (usually two or three reloads, varies depending on charge) Then use an adjustable full length sizing die set to only just bump the shoulder back a thou or two. Neck size only until tight then repeat.
              You can only fire the cases in the rifle they are fire formed in. This method effectively changes the cases from headspacing on the rim to headspace on the shoulder. (You only need the o ring on first firing) and it removes over working of the brass altogether.

              Hope this makes some sense... it's getting late and I'm working off the top of my head, so may have missed some points...

              cheers,
              Tech
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