Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Troubleshooting a Lee Enfield Rifle

The Lee-Enfield Rifle served the British Empire and Commonwealth Nations as their service rifle from its adoption in 1895 through both World Wars until 1957.  Although it is no longer the official service rifle it is still used in many offices for training, as a sniper rifle and as a ceremonial piece. 
This was a rifle that was clearly ahead of its time.
In fact the Lee-Enfield Rifle still holds the World Record for aimed bolt action rifle fire. The record was set all the way back in 1914! It was so fast in battle, that during WWI the Germans thought the Brits were using machine guns!

The particular gun that I have was purchased as a surplus gun in the early 1990's. I believe I paid $59 + shipping for this gun. It was made in 1943 at the Long Branch Arsenal in Canada. It is a No.4 MkI* model with flip up peep sight and a 10 round magazine.

The gun fires the .303 British Cartridge, which is slightly less powerful than a 30-06 Springfield.
 Anyway, I have only shot this gun a couple of times in the twenty plus years that I have owned it. Last summer I took it to our favorite outdoor shooting pit to shoot it and I found that I could not chamber a round. My first thought was that something (perhaps the top of an old cartridge) was stuck in the chamber. I used a high powered light and could not see anything in the chamber at all (the rifling looked great though!).

So I decided to take the gun apart to see if there was something that I was over-looking. I soon realized that I had never cleaned the cosmoline out of the gun when I bought it.
For those that don't know, Cosmoline is a type of grease used to preserve firearms when put into long term storage. If it were not for cosomoline we may not have many of these old military weapons today. The Cosmoline would be heated into a liquid and the guns would be submerged in it, ensuring the grease got into every nook and cranny. Brownells now sells the goo, it even conforms to the original mil-spec.

You can see the cosmoline on the trigger mech and the stock

So I set about cleaning the gun, fortunately military guns are easy to dis-assemble (they had to be).

If you ever wondered what an Enfield looked like without its fore stock:

Here is the evidence of my cleaning effort....

After a through cleaning with Hoppe's #9, I reassembled the gun. To install/remove the bolt you need to line up the end of the bolt with a notch in the receiver

Then turn the end of the bolt 90 degrees so that it lines up with the locking lug on the bolt, you can now pull the bolt out the back of the receiver
 While taking these pictures, I noticed a gap between at the end of the bolt. The bolt end unscrews to dis-assemble the bolt/firing pin.

So I turned the bolt all the way in and there was no more gap........this was the problem! This is one of those AHA! moments when you realize the problem was so easy it makes you look stupid, but you don't care because the problem is fixed.

The bolt had gotten spun 360 degrees, enough to prevent the bolt from closing when a cartridge was in front of the bolt, but still allowing room when there was no cartridge.

I tested it with a couple of factory cartridges that I had on hand, no more issues. The gun chambered them just fine.

So I learned something new and finally cleaned the cosmoline out of my I need to take it shooting!

Friday, March 21, 2014

TCB's Ugly Gun Awards

In an earlier post I handed out awards for the sexiest gun, these are the ones at the opposite end of the gun spectrum. The ugly ducklings, the guns that only a mother could love. Some of you may disagree, just remember this is not a reflection of people who love these guns, nor does it mean that I hate these guns, I just find their appearance to be shall we say "less than beautiful".
In no particular order:

The Japanese have always had trouble inventing their own designs, usually they copy the designs from the west. On the rare occasions when they go off on their own, tragedy results. Such is the case with the Nambu pistols. Designed by Kijiro Nambu just after the turn of the century. Rumor has it the Mauser C96 Broomhandle had some influence on the design. Looking at the original Nambu, you can see the resemblance to the Luger, one of the most beautiful guns ever made....

I guess it was too pretty. The mucked it up as the designs progressed. The type 14 (4th variation) was adopted by the Japanese Army in 1927

the Type 14:
The ungainly Mauser C96 Broomhandle also makes the list, I know a lot of people like this gun and it has great historical significance, but it isn't winning any beauty contests!
 Another gun with great historical significance, and the inspiration for the P08 Luger, the Borchardt C93 was ugly with a capital U.
World War II was a very costly war, all parties involved found themselves strapped for money to build more small arms. The United States Army's answer to the problem resulted in the M3 Grease Gun, it was given the name because it resembled the same grease gun the Army mechanics used to lubricate machinery.

Moving to the more modern guns, the HK VP-70 was one of the first polymer framed guns, it looks like it would be comfortable to shoot, but it lacks visual appeal. It almost looks like a piece of "minimalist" art.
 The VZ 61 Scorpion makes the list, it appears as if the designers were only interested it making it work....
The Chiappa Rhino looks about as lovely as its namesake. it's too bad too, because the Meteba revolver that this design is partially based on was a pretty good looking gun.

 Hi-Point Firearms makes guns that work, and are accurate as well, but they are about the ugliest things ever made.

Rounding out the list is this unlikely gun. 

The Winchester model 94 rifle is one of the sexiest guns made, no argument there. Mossberg went and made a great looking copy of the Winchester.......Then they went and committed this act of blasphemy. ATI (the stock maker) should have slapped Mossberg back to their senses when they were approached with this idea.

Monday, March 17, 2014

TCB's Sexy Gun Awards

If you do a Google search for 'Sexy Guns' you will get pictures of sexy girls with guns. While I do plan a post on girls with guns (you'll want to stay tuned for that one) I thought it would be cool to do a write up on sexy guns.
It is not all that unusual to apply human traits to guns, people do it with cars, musical instruments and other man made objects.
Some guns have universal appeal. They have something about them that piques our interest. The following guns were picked by me, but I'll bet there are a few that would also end up on your list as well. Here they are in no particular order:

The first one was a topic on my post regarding Single Shot Rifles. The Winchester model 1885 High Wall. This was the 1st gun design patented by John Moses Browning.

 This gun was the first cartridge firing handgun adopted by the U.S. Military. The Colt Single Action Army model of 1873. This is one of the most copied guns in history.

This next gun was designed in the late 1890s after an American gun (the Borchardt C-93). It began service with various countries, but is most known as the official German side arm, the Luger P08

The second long gun on the list was also designed by John M. Browning. The Winchester model 94 (1894) was a slightly larger version of the earlier 1892 model. The '94 rifle was offered with a wide variety of options and calibers over the years and is the best selling sporting rifle of all time. I especially like the older versions with the crescent buttplate and octagon barrels.

A gun related to the Winchester lever action is the Colt Lighting pump action rifle. Beautiful lines, high capacity and a quick action.

 The second Colt Revolver on this list is considered by many to be the ultimate evolution of the double action revolver. The fit and finish on the Colt Python was excellent. Of course the value of these guns has skyrocketed since Colt ceased regular production in 1996.

The Walther PPK (& PPK/S) have sexy lines that have been copied by many pistol makers. This might be due to the ease of making a fixed barrel, blow-back operated design.

The Thompson Sub-Machine Gun arrived too late on the scene to assist the doughboys in The Great War, but was just in time for prohibition and the rise of organized crime. The Tommy Gun did see some use in WWII, but its weight and cost of manufacturing led to its being replaced by the M3 Grease Gun (a gun that will no doubt make TCB's Ugly Gun Awards).

  I could not have this list and leave out the Smith & Wesson double action revolvers. While I do appreciate the older blued models
 I really like the polished stainless models with the full underlug

Another revolver that I have always found beautiful is the Taurus 669 VR model. This gun is of course designed after the Smith & Wesson K frame, but has the added vent rib (like the Python) and a full underlug. The only problem is that the quality control issues maintain Taurus' status as 'pistolium non grata' in my collection.

Another Smith & Wesson, this gun was a copy of an earlier design that failed to sell. The Smith & Wesson Model 61 Escort also failed to sell and was discontinued after just 4 years. Still I think there is something sexy about a pocket gun called an "Escort".

I could not leave out the Ruger Double Action Revolvers. While some say the guns are clunky or have too many sharp edges, the guns are natural pointers and are simple in construction.
Stronger than the S&W or Colt revolvers, easier to dis-assemble and maintain. They are one of my favorites and when the stainless ones are polished....they are purty!

This last gun is the third Colt and the second Colt 45, it is yet another gun designed by John Browning. The model 1911 pistol celebrated its 100th birthday in 2011 and it is more popular today than ever. Virtually every maker of firearms makes a 1911 variant.

Special Thanks to:

The National Firearms Museum

Turnbull Manufacturing

Mob Guns

Connecticut Gun Exchange