I stumbled across the posts here regarding the .303 Enfield and thought this may be of interest .
I grew up in Namibia ( Africa) and am still living here . Am a keen hunter and shooter and absolutely love firearms ( don’t we all) .
Have quite a number of rifles but the ones I do hunt with most is my Sako Finnbear ,375 H+H Mag and believe it or not an old 1908 mark 111 .303 Lee Enfield .
My 303 must have seen action in both wars and I was given it by an old farmer some 30 years ago when I was about 16 . That was the most beautiful day in my life - it was my first own rifle . Not only a rifle but a 303 and as a kid I always adored them , has a passion for those full stock rifles with 10 rounds in the magazine –oooh I was on cloud nine . Must admit I still have a passion for them . It was in a pretty bad shape but I sanded it down , cleaned it, made a new sling , oiled the stock and it looked pretty well .
In those years the 303’s were the going models here and everybody used them. All were using the 174gr either full metal jacket and /or soft nose’s. Those were the days long before reloading took place .
The 303 has been given an unfair bad reputation around here ( and I guess all over the world ) as a hunting caliber . It is claimed that the 303 has bagged (and wounded) more animals in Africa than any other caliber .
I will agree that more animals were bagged with it than any other caliber – but with the wounding part I disagree. One has to look at it in perspective and seeing that almost everybody used them – then it is “acceptable” that a few animals were wounded . But lots of animals were wounded with other calibers as well and will still be wounded in future with modern magnums .
But back to my 100 year old 303 .
The barrel was pretty much shot out and it was grouping very bad , but nevertheless as a youngster I still used it and shot many kudu , eland and warthog with it . Missed a lot of them but thank goodness – never wounded one .
I have later bought other rifles and the 303 was put to retirement .
About a year ago decided to bring the 303 out of retirement and cut off a piece from the front of the barrel where it was so badly corroded by the old cordite propellant . I cut 2” off then another 1” and the bore progressively looked better, so I cut more and eventually I have shortened the barrel by 6”.
Measuring the pieces I found that the front of the original barrel was 0,9 mm bigger than the last bit . Now that is what I call WORN! For a barrel to be shout out like this there must have been thousands fired.
Anyway – I then machined a new crown to the muzzle exit , shortened the stock ( but kept the original looks with bayonet fittings and all)
I bedded the barrel and made it free floating inside the full stock – which is not easy at all as the barrel kept touching the stock in so many places . But eventually I succeeded .
The rifle now is really short but looks neat .
I stared to reload my own 303 ammo and fitted a Bushnell 6-24x50 scope ( an over kill ) that was lying around in my reloading room .
What a lovely surprise I got when I took it out to the range . It maintains a 2”grouping at a 100 m , at times even smaller . I could not believe it and neither could the other shooters with their modern rifles .
That is not bad for a 100 year old rifle and considering that the barrel is still badly worn and pitted , not to speak of the enormous headspace that the chamber has . Lucky with neck sizing the head space problem is easy overcome .
Will attach some targets here.
I have also hunted with it quite a few times and brought home a few kudu , all hit where intended to hit and all a one shot clean kill.
If proper home loads are used - you can easy place the 303 in the same class as the 308 , 30-06 and there is no difference in performance and killing power.
Just thought it may be of interest to some readers to know that the 303 is still alive in Africa.
All the best and keep the 303’s shooting .
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org if somebody wants to write me – here in Africa we cant always get into the internet to check the mails on the various sites .